Chronic Otitis Media
Alternate Names : Persistent Otitis Media, Recurrent Otitis Media, Glue Ear
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
further hearing loss
The tubes last for 6 to 12
months on average. Another set of tubes is needed in about 20% of
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.