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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Chronic Otitis Media
      Category : Health Centers > Ears and Hearing Disorders

Chronic Otitis Media

Alternate Names : Persistent Otitis Media, Recurrent Otitis Media, Glue Ear

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

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 bacteria.

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 without treatment.

Other causes include chronic sinus infection and allergies. 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 condition.


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Chronic Otitis Media: Symptoms & Signs

Author: Mark Loury, MD
Reviewer: Kathleen A. MacNaughton, RN, BSN
Date Reviewed: 09/25/02

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