Untreated Otitis Media Can Lead to Hearing Loss

Otitis Media

ENT doctors treat a wide variety of conditions that affect the ear, nose and throat, but perhaps one of the most common ailments for which an otolaryngologist is sought out is an earache, or otitis media which means “inflammation of the middle ear. Most frequently diagnosed in children, otitis media can also affect adults. It is a serious condition that can cause loss of hearing or chronic infection. The condition is caused by blockage of the Eustachian tube which usually occurs when a cold, allergy or upper respiratory infection is present.

This can lead to a buildup of pus and mucus behind the eardrum, which in turn causes a buildup of pressurized pus in the middle ear. Swelling and pain result and sometimes the eardrum cannot vibrate properly, causing hearing problems. This is severe otitis media which can even cause the eardrum to rupture.

More often than not, the condition can be treated with antibiotics, antihistamines and/or decongestants. If the symptoms persist or multiple episodes occur within a short period of time, the ENT doctor may place ventilation (or pressure equalizer/ PE tubes) within the ear. This is a short surgical procedure in which a small incision is made in the eardrum, fluid suctioned out and a small tube inserted to allow the Eustachian tube to drain.

The tube will eventually fall out on its own and the ear drum will heal. If it is determined that infected adenoids and tonsils are the cause of the condition, the otolaryngologist may recommend they be removed during the same procedure for inserting the PE tube.

Remember, treatment for otitis media is critical and failure to take action may result in hearing loss.

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