Middle Ear Infections
These are infections that are behind the eardrum.
The space behind the eardrum is supposed to be dry and all air.
However, sometimes, infection or phlegm can reach this space via the auditory tube (Eustachian tube) which connects to the back of the nose.
Acute otitis media (AOM)
These are fast and furious and very painful infections. They happen within a short period of time, normally associated with a fever and severe ear pain. They happen quite frequently in children and are easily missed. Other symptoms can include:
- General crankiness like crying, irritability, inability to sleep
- Ear pain with rubbing of the ears and pulling of the ears
- Older children usually can describe a full and blocked feeling in the ears
- Hearing loss
- Blood or yellowish substance coming out of the ears
Otitis media with effusion (OME)
The other related terms are middle ear effusion (MEE) or chronic otitis media (COM) or serous otitis media. For simplicity’s sake, you can take all of them to mean pretty much the same thing, which translates to English as “fluid behind the eardrum”.
These conditions are easier to miss but also very common. Some of their symptoms are similar to those above but they generally have a slower onset and are more subtle.
The patient might notice the following symptoms:
- Fullness or pressure in the ears
- Popping sound that sounds like bubble wrap being popped, especially when going up and down in lifts
- Hearing loss and blocked feeling in ears
Many patients come to us thinking they have earwax, but they might actually have this.
It takes a long time to learn to use the otoscope (the device doctors use to see inside your ears) and even longer to recognise and distinguish between normal and abnormal eardrums.
We have collected many images of eardrums to help our future colleagues better recognise these conditions.
|Zenith Collections of Middle Ear Infections|
|Acute Otitis Media|
Ouch this looks painful!
Ouch this looks very painful too!
The left side for comparison
|Otitis Media with effusion|
The right side
The left side
A child's ear, easy to miss diagnosis unless the doctor looks into the ears.
If the doctor doesn't take a second look, he might miss this.
Notice the scar from a healing ear drum hole (healing perforation)
Left ear also has an effusion
Notice the pus/fluid level at the bottom
Normal left ear for comparison
- Medicines to relieve pain
- Myringotomy: an incision is made in the eardrum to drain fluid
- Tympanocentesis: a small needle is used to drain fluid from the ear