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

Chronic Otitis Media

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

Chronic Otitis Media | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

What are the treatments for the condition?

Antibiotics and corticosteroid medicines are often given. If otitis media does not respond to those medicines, ventilation tubes are a treatment option. Ventilation tubes are tiny tubes that are inserted through the eardrum to help equalize the pressure inside the ear and allow fluid drainage.

With a perforated eardrum or ear cyst, surgery is usually advised. This may include repairing the eardrum and removing any infected tissue, diseased or scarred membranes, or cysts that are in or around the ear. The hearing bones may also need repair.

What are the side effects of the treatments?

Ventilation tubes usually cause few side effects. A hole in the eardrum remains in 2% to 3% of children once the tubes are removed. Other complications can include:

  • chronic ear drainage
  • ear cysts
  • infection
  • further hearing loss
  • The tubes last for 6 to 12 months on average. Another set of tubes is needed in about 20% of those children.

    Surgery in and around the ear may fail to get rid of the infection completely or fail to restore all of the hearing loss. Side effects can include a disturbance of taste on part of the tongue. Other side effects may include nerve damage leading to deafness, dizziness, facial paralysis on one side, or breakdown of the repaired eardrum. If synthetic materials are used to restore the bones for hearing, the materials can become dislodged or fail.

    What happens after treatment for the condition?

    In chronic otitis media, hearing is usually restored very quickly after treatment. If ventilation tubes are required, drainage through the tube may continue for a short while. After tubes are placed, some care needs to be taken to prevent bacteria in the middle ear space. Sometimes chlorinated water, such as that in swimming pools or out of the tap, can get into the middle ear space through the tube.

    Swimming with tubes is a controversial topic. Many doctors advise that children with tubes should not swim at all. If children do swim, they should wear earplugs and a headband. Most doctors advise children with tubes not to dive. Often, antibiotic eardrops are used after swimming or if there is some concern that water has gotten into the ears.

    The risk of an infection is highest if shampoo or soapy bath water enters the middle ear through the tube. Bath water often contains bacteria from the bowel and skin. Soap helps bath water slide more easily into the middle ear.

    In most people who have had surgery for chronic middle ear inflammation, healing is complete within two to three months. If the treatment is a success, there will be no further infections, and hearing is improved. But if the infection continues, the eardrum may perforate again, or fluid may develop behind it.

    How is the condition monitored?

    Hearing loss after an upper respiratory infection or a treated acute ear infection should prompt a visit to the doctor. After tube placement, if drainage continues or hearing does not improve, a doctor should be consulted.

    Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to a doctor. Anyone with ear drainage needs to be seen by a doctor right away. This is especially true if there is hearing loss, dizziness, facial paralysis, or high fevers.

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    Chronic Otitis Media: Prevention & Expectations


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

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