- Ear ache, distorted, muffled hearing
- Antibiotics and/or
Middle ear infections (Otitis Media) are most prevalent in children under the age of 12. Acute infection can cause severe ear ache as well as inflamed ear drums and fluid buildup. This results in distortion and muffling of sounds that are strong and clear to the healthy ear. Antibiotics often prove sufficient to relieve the problem. However, reoccurring infections can prove to be a significant complication that may require surgery.
A major cause of fluid buildup in the middle ear is an improperly functioning eustachian tube. The tube is a passage way from the back of the throat to the middle ear which supplies the air that normally balances the pressure of the middle ear with the outside pressure. When the eustachian tube doesn’t do its job, colds, sinus infections and sore throats can cause infection to travel up the tube and reach the middle ear.
After numerous infections, the adenoids, located behind the nose and roof of the mouth, may no longer produce antibodies that fight infection. Instead, they may provide a home for germs. Adenoids that no longer fight diseases may lead to additional ear infections and fluid in the ear.
If a regimen of antibiotics fails to clear up the immediate problem or infections are repeated numerous times, the doctor may recommend a surgical procedure called Myrngotomy. In this procedure, the physician replaces small pressure-equalizing tubes on each side of the eardrum and drains any fluid buildup. The doctor may also remove troublesome adenoids that are contributing to the problem.
Surgery is performed on an outpatient basis. After a brief postoperative stay in the recovery room, the patient goes home. The patient may experience an upset stomach afterwards, but that discomfort disappears quickly and in a couple of days the patient is usually back to normal. In most cases, the surgery is without significant complications. There is, however, some chance for postoperative infection. Infrequently, ear infections reoccur or fluid builds up again after the small, pressure-equalizing tubes fall out or are removed. In those cases, the doctor will reinsert a PE tube to correct the problem.
Indications for insertion of pressure-equalizing tubes are:
- Persistent effusion for more than 12 weeks
- Failure to respond to 4-week antibiotic-antihistamine-decongestant therapy
- Severe Otitis Media with considerable atelectasis or retraction pocket
- Severe conductive deafness
- Impeding cholesteatoma
- “Otitis Media” prone child
- Cleft palate