Chronic Otitis Media
Alternate Names : Persistent Otitis Media, Recurrent Otitis Media, Glue Ear
Chronic otitis media is a term used to describe persistent or
chronic middle ear inflammation. This may be due to persistent fluid
behind the eardrum from repeated middle ear infections.
What is going on in the body?
Fluid behind the eardrum is common with a middle ear
infection. Middle ear infections are common in children during the first
few years of life. This fluid goes away in almost all children within
three months of the infection. In a few children who have chronic middle ear
infections, the fluid does not go away on its own. This collection of fluid
is called effusion, which means fluid behind the eardrum.
Repeated episodes of middle ear infections may also be
due to a tear in the eardrum or to cysts, which are abnormal sacs, in the
ear. These conditions make the ear more prone to become infected with
What are the causes and risks of the condition?
The cause of otitis media is usually a sudden
middle ear infection. In large studies in daycare centers, up to
70% of children had fluid behind their eardrums
at some point during a year. About 90% of the time, the fluid went away
Other causes include chronic sinus infection
Children who have certain abnormalities in the shape of the face, palate,
or eustachian tube, which connects the middle ear cavity with the throat,
may also put a child at higher risk. Even though it is
extremely rare, fluid behind just one eardrum can indicate a cancer.
This is particularly true in adults.
Children with Down syndrome
and those who are Native American seem to have a higher risk of this