What is a middle ear infection?

The ear consists of three anatomical regions: the outer ear, the middle ear and the inner ear. The middle ear comprises of a small air –filled space and the eardrum. A middle ear infection (also called otitis media) is a condition in which an inflammation causes retention of fluid and accumulation of air to apply pressure on the eardrum and cause pain.

What are the causes of a middle ear infection?

A middle ear infection is usually caused by blockage of the Eustachian tubes – narrow passages that connect each middle ear to the upper throat (just behind the nose). A simple cold or an upper respiratory tract infection can lead to swelling of these tubes (enough to become blocked) and may result in trapped fluid inside the middle ear, a fertile media for bacterial growth.
before after
Middle ear infections may occur at any age. However, young children are more susceptible to middle ear infections. The Eustachian tubes in children are small and anatomically closer to the nose, a factor that renders infection transmission easier.

Common ear infection symptoms

The most common symptom of an ear infection is pain.

Ear infection induced pain intensity range between mild to severe aches, and vary among individuals. Babies and toddlers might appear fussy and irritant. Pulling of the ear and crying is quite common in cases of middle ear infections in children. Also, trouble sleeping and fever are two other common ear infection symptoms parents should pay attention to.

When the ear infection causes perforation of the eardrum, you may notice thick fluid or mucus flowing out of the ears. This condition is not dangerous and in fact, usually reduces the pain due to pressure relief on the ear drum.

In some cases, the fluid buildup inside the middle does not necessarily get infected. Most children report a plugged sensation of the ear, without feeling any pain. Temporary diminished hearing may occur for a short period, until the fluid drains away (this may take several weeks).

Diagnosis of a middle ear infection

If you suspect your child is suffering from a middle ear infection, it is important to confirm it with a pediatrician, who will talk to you about your child’s symptoms. The physician should carefully examine your child’s ears, using a special medical tool with a light that lets the doctor see the eardrum and tell whether there is fluid behind it. This physical exam is rarely uncomfortable and most children aren’t bothered by it.
ear pain in adults

Middle ear infection treatment

In most cases, middle ear infections heal and pass on their own. However, there are several ways to treat ear infection induced pain at home or alternatively, by using over-the-counter pain relievers (such as Tylenol or Tempra). Note than administration of aspirin of an individual younger than 20 years might be dangerous. Another popular OTC product for the treatment of ear infections is ear drops, although some eardrops (e.g contains antibiotics) may require a doctor’s prescription.

Efficient natural remedies for ear pain relief include warm washcloth or heating pad on the ear, and rest.

As mentioned above, a middle ear infection may cause impaired hearing in children. This condition should not precede 3-4 months after infection and requires meducal follow up: impaired hearing may affect linguistic skill and development.

Antibiotic treatment.
Until recently, children suffering from middle ear infections were usually given antibiotics by doctors. New studies indicate clearly that most ear infections get better without the use of antibiotics. If you are opposed to antibiotic misuse (due to side effects, bacterial resistance etc), discuss the matter with your child’s pediatrician and ask for alternative treatment options.

In some ear infection cases ear tubes are inserted to externally drain the fluids however there are Alternative to Ear Tubes

The EARDOC is an efficient & proved non-invasive device that reduces ear infection pain by treating the problem rather than the symptom. The eardoc significantly reduces the need for ear tube surgery (Myringotomy) by naturally opening the closed Ear tube and drying the trapped fluids.


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