Otitis media refers to inflammation of the middle ear. When infection occurs, the condition is called “acute otitis media.”
Acute otitis media occurs when a cold, allergy, or upper respiratory infection, and the presence of bacteria or viruses, lead to the accumulation of pus and mucus behind the eardrum, blocking the Eustachian tube. This causes earache and swelling.
When fluid forms in the middle ear, the condition is known as “otitis media with effusion.” This occurs in a recovering ear infection or when one is about to occur.
Fluid can remain in the ear for weeks to many months. When a discharge from the ear persists or repeatedly returns, this is called “chronic otitis media.”
Fluid can remain in the ear up to three weeks following the infection. If not treated, chronic ear infections have potentially serious consequences such as temporary or permanent hearing loss.
The American Academy Of Otolaryngology- Head & Neck Surgery Guidelines
The American Academy Of Otolaryngology- Head & Neck Surgery recommends f urther evaluation for children who have:
- frequent ear infections
- hearing loss that lasts more than six weeks, or
- fluid in the middle ear for more than three months.
There are a wide range of medical devices now available to test a child’s hearing, Eustachian tube dysfunction, and reliability of the ear drum.