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Mr Michel Neeff - Otolaryngologist @ ENT Associates

Private Service, ENT/ Head & Neck Surgery, Paediatrics

Otitis Media/Grommets

This is inflammation or infection of your middle ear (the space behind your eardrum) and is often associated with a build-up of fluid in your middle ear.

Acute Otitis Media

This is usually caused by a temporary malfunction of the Eustachian tube due to immaturity, infections, allergies or trauma.  The Eustachian tube connects the middle ear to the area behind the nose and allows air to enter the middle ear, thus making middle ear pressure the same as air pressure outside the head.  Acute otitis media is an infection in the middle ear causing pain, fever and a red, bulging eardrum (the thin, transparent membrane between the ear canal and the middle ear).  This condition is commonly seen in young children.  The treatment may include antibiotics. If there are repeated episodes, surgical insertion of grommets into the eardrums may be helpful.  Grommets are tiny ventilation tubes that allow airflow into the middle ear until the Eustachian tube begins to work normally.  The operation is done under general anaesthesia (the child is asleep) and takes 10-15 minutes. Most grommets fall out naturally after twelve to eighteen months, by which time the Eustachian tubes are often working properly.

Otitis Media with Effusion (Glue Ear)

Like acute otitis media, glue ear is usually the result of a temporary malfunction of the Eustachian tube and may either follow an episode of acute otitis media or occur on its own. The condition is most commonly seen in children. Fluid is present in the middle ear. The ear is not usually painful, the eardrum is not red and bulging and there is no fever. Glue ear may cause hearing loss, which can result in speech delays, and balance problems. Treatment options include: watchful waiting; grommet insertion; or rarely hearing aids.

Chronic Otitis Media

If the Eustachian tube does not function over a period of several years, there may be changes to the tissues of the middle ear such as deformity of the eardrum and damage to the hearing bones. These changes may result in hearing problems, balance problems, and persistent ear discharge.  If not responsive to antibiotic treatment, an operation called tympanomastoidectomy may be required. This involves making an incision (cut) behind your ear, drilling through the mastoid bone and removing, and possibly repairing, diseased tissue.

This page was last updated at 12:09PM on October 21, 2021.