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Middle Ear Infection

Middle Ear Infection



What is it?

Otitis media is infection of the middle ear. Even a minor cold or nasal congestion may prevent normal drainage from the ear, which will then cause infection.

Ear infection is generally caused by a malfunctioning Eustachian tube, a canal that connects the middle ear with the back of the nose or otherwise called nasopharynx.

The eustachian tube aids in the equalization of pressure between the outer and middle ear. When this tube is not functioning properly, it causes negative pressure to build up inside the middle ear. This causes fluids to form inside the middle ear. Furthermore, a clogged Eustachian tube hinders normal drainage of fluid from the middle ear, resulting in an accumulation of fluid behind the eardrum. When this fluid cannot drain, germs and viruses can develop in the ear, leading to acute otitis media.

Some of the reasons that causes dysfunction of eustachian tube are:

  1. A cold or allergy that causes swelling and congestion of the nose, throat, and eustachian tube lining (this swelling prevents the normal drainage of fluids from the ear)
  2. Children: The eustachian tube is narrower and more horizontal in children. Therefore they are more prone to get blockage of the eustachian tube. 
  • Ear pain
  • Fever
  • Irritability/pulling on ears (especially in infants and younger children)
  • Difficulty Hearing
  • Dizziness (less common)
When to see a doctor?
Most ear infections will go away on their own within a few days. However, if your symptoms do not improve in 2-3 days you should consult a physician. Worsening pain after three days, persistent fever or discharge of pus/ bloody fluid from the ear should all make you go to the doctor. Rarely additional severe symptoms like neck stiffness, drowsiness, headache or vomiting may occur.