Ear infection - chronic

Middle ear infection - chronic; Otitis media - chronic; Chronic otitis media; Chronic ear infection

Chronic ear infection is fluid, swelling, or an infection behind the eardrum that does not go away or keeps coming back. It causes long-term or permanent damage to the ear. It often involves a hole in the eardrum that does not heal.

Ear infection - chronic

Does your child have pain or discomfort in his ear? Does your child often have a fever, is fussy a lot? If so, they may have chronic ear infections. Ear infections are one of the most common reasons parents take their children to the doctor. The Eustachian tube runs from the middle of each ear to the back of the throat. This tube drains fluid normally made in the middle ear. But if the tube gets blocked, fluid can build up, leading to infection. Ear infections are common in infants and children because the Eustachian tubes become easily clogged. If the ears get infected a lot or individual ear infections don’t clear up, your child has chronic ear infections. How do you know for sure that your child has a chronic ear infection? Your child will feel like there’s pressure or fullness in his ear. He may feel pain or discomfort in his ear and have a low-grade fever. An infant may be fussy a lot. You may see a pus-like drainage from an ear, your child may have trouble hearing. Your child’s doctor will check for redness, air bubbles, and thick fluid in your child’s middle ear. If there’s a discharge, a swab of your child’s ear may reveal bacteria that are harder to treat than the bacteria that commonly cause an ear infection. The doctor may see a hole in your child’s eardrum. To treat a chronic ear infection, your child will probably need to take antibiotics if the infection is due to bacteria, maybe for a long time. If there is a hole in the eardrum, your child may need to use antibiotic ear drops as well. If the infection does NOT go away, the child may need surgery, to clean the infection out of the mastoid bone behind the middle ear, to repair the small bones in the middle ear, or to repair the eardrum. The doctor may also recommend ear tube surgery. In this procedure, a tiny tube is inserted into the eardrum to drain the fluid. The tube will usually fall out on its own. Chronic ear infections are treatable, but your child may need to keep taking medicine even for several months. These infections can be uncomfortable, and they may result in hearing loss or other serious problems. The earlier you deal with chronic ear infections, the better.

Ear anatomy

The ear consists of external, middle, and inner structures. The eardrum and the 3 tiny bones conduct sound from the eardrum to the cochlea.

Middle ear infection (otitis media)

Otitis media is an inflammation or infection of the middle ear. Acute otitis media (acute ear infection) occurs when there is bacterial or viral infection of the fluid of the middle ear, which causes production of fluid or pus. Chronic otitis media occurs when the eustachian tube becomes blocked repeatedly due to allergies, multiple infections, ear trauma, or swelling of the adenoids.

Middle ear infection

A middle ear infection is also known as otitis media. It is one of the most common of childhood infections. With this illness, the middle ear becomes red, swollen, and inflamed because of bacteria trapped in the eustachian tube.

Eustachian tube

Ear infections are more common in children because their eustachian tubes are shorter, narrower, and more horizontal than in adults, making the movement of air and fluid difficult. Bacteria can become trapped when the tissue of the eustachian tube becomes swollen from colds or allergies. Bacteria trapped in the eustachian tube may produce an ear infection that pushes on the eardrum causing it to become red, swollen, and sore.

Ear tube insertion - series - Normal anatomy

The tympanic membrane, or eardrum, separates the ear canal from the middle ear.



Exams and Tests


Outlook (Prognosis)

Possible Complications

When to Contact a Medical Professional