middle ear infection
(acute otitis media)
ACUTE OTITIS MEDIA
Otitis media is the “classic” ear infection, seen particularly in children. It is often associated with an upper respiratory tract infection such as a common cold. The middle ear becomes infected and inflamed, and pain and ear fullness result from build-up of infected fluid or pus in the middle ear.
In very severe infections, the pressure build-up from the increased amount of fluid in the ear may cause the eardrum to rupture. If the eardrum bursts, the excess fluid will drain into the outer ear canal, resulting in a discharge of fluid or pus from the ear.
The diagnosis is made by looking into the ear as well as evaluating the lack of movement of the eardum because of the pus behind it.
This can be differentiated from Serous Effusion (Ear Fluid) because of the redness and pus as opposed to clear fluid. Therefore in the diagram above, the main difference would be the fluid buildup behind the eardrum would be pus.
Treatment typically consists of oral antibiotics and possibly anti-inflammatories. Often, once the infection is treated, there is persistent of clear fluid and/or abnormal middle ear pressure for weeks after the episode.
See Ear Fluid / Serous Effusion for more information