Middle ear infection
Otitis media is aninfectionof the middle ear that causes inflammation (redness and swelling) and a build-up of fluid behind the eardrum.
Anyone can develop a middle ear infection but infants between six and 15 months old are most commonly affected.
It's estimated that around one in every four children experience at least one middle ear infection by the time they're 10 years old.
In most cases, the symptoms of a middleear infection (otitis media) developquickly and resolve in a few days. This is known asacute otitis media. The main symptoms include:
In some cases, a hole may develop in the eardrum ( perforated eardrum ) and pus may run out of the ear.The earache, which is caused by the build-up of fluid stretching the eardrum, then resolves.
As babies are unable to communicate the source of their discomfort, it can be difficult to tell what's wrong with them. Signs thata youngchild might have an ear infection include:
Most cases of otitis media pass within a few days, so there's usually no need to see your GP.
However, seeyour GP if you or your child have:
If necessary, paracetamol or ibuprofen should be used to relieve pain and a high temperature.
Make sure any painkillers you give to your child are appropriate for their age. The adenoid can be removed if it causes persistent or frequent ear infections. These include:
Avoiding contact with other children who are unwell may also help reduce your child's chances of catching an infection that could lead to a middle ear infection.
Complications of middle ear infections are fairly rare, but can be serious if they do occur.
Most complications are the result of the infection spreading to another part of the ear or head, including:
If complications do develop, they often need to be treated immediately with antibiotics in hospital.
Otitis media is an infection of the middle ear that causes inflammation (redness and swelling) and a build-up of fluid behind the eardrum
A middle ear infection (otitis media) can usually be diagnosed using an instrument called an otoscope.
Most middle ear infections (otitis media) will clear up within three days and don't need any specific treatment.