Otitis media is an inflammation of the middle ear. This is the part of the ear that is the cavity between the eardrum and the inner ear. This inflammation is due to an upper respiratory tract infection. Sometimes a cold can bring this on.
To be more specific, this inflammation affects the passage that connects the back of the nose to the middle ear known as the Eustachian tube. Sometimes this tube may become blocked due to the inflammation. This infection can also cause the adenoids to become large and can affect the throat and nose. The fluid from this infection accumulates in the middle ear.
Children can easily be susceptible to otitis media due to the fact that their eustachian tube is short. About one in six children suffers from the acute form in the first year of life.
The symptoms of acute otitis is when there is a sudden and severe earache, a feeling of fullness in the ear, deafness, tinnitus, which is a ringing or buzzing in the ear and fever.
Sometimes the eardrum bursts. When this occurs, there is discharge of pus and the pain goes away. This is a good sign because it means that the child or whoever is affected by this infection, will soon be getting better.
If an individual has chronic otitis media, pus is constantly flowing from a perforation in the eardrum and there is some degree of deafness. There can be complications with chronic otitis media. This is when there can be inflammation of the outer ear and damage to the bones in the middle ear. When this occurs, the patient can become more deaf, possibly to the extent of complete deafness. Sometimes in severe cases, a matted ball of infected skin can form. In rare cases, it has been known that infection can spread and cause a brain abscess.
A visit to the doctor can make a diagnosis of this infection by examining the ears with a viewing instrument, known as an otoscope. A swab is taken of any discharge so that the organism that is causing this infection can be identified.
Acute otitis media is treated by giving antibiotic drugs and painkillers. The good news is that generally, this condition clears up completely with proper treatment. Unfortunately, it has been reported that there have been some cases where the sticky fluid continues in the middle ear. This condition is known as persistent middle-ear effusion.
Chronic otitis media is treated by sucking out pus and other infections from the ear. Antibiotic ear drops may be given if the pus still remains.
Source: The American Medical Association, Encyclopedia of Medicine