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Otitis media: symptoms and treatment, prevention

The human ear is a complex organ, the work of which is provided by many natural mechanisms. Most of them are hidden in the region of the temporal bone (inner ear), they communicate with the environment through the external auditory canal and the Eustachian tube.

Having deepened into the anatomy and structure of the ear, it turns out that the external auditory canal ends with the eardrum, which reliably blocks the path of pathogens in the middle sterile organ section (middle ear). When a person gets an infection in him, otitis media develops.


Otitis, what is it?

Otitis media

The overall picture of otitis media, photo and scheme

Otitis is an infectious-inflammatory disease that occurs when pathogens enter the middle part of the organ of hearing, as a result of which the middle ear becomes inflamed and cannot fully perform its functions. In simple terms, otitis media is an inflammation of the middle ear.

In most cases, the inflammatory process develops secondary, as a complication of the disease of the nasal or oropharynx. Through the Eustachian tube, the organ of hearing communicates with the nasal cavity and pharynx, so the transferred diseases of the upper respiratory tract can cause the spread of infection.

Predisposing factors for the development of otitis media are:

  • General hypothermia of the body;
  • Weak immunity, frequent viral infections;
  • Long-term use of antibiotics that have a destructive effect on the intestinal microflora and destroy the immune system;
  • Inflammation of the adenoids;
  • Chronic infections of the nasopharynx - sinusitis, sinusitis, tonsillitis, pharyngitis, frontal sinusitis;
  • Transferred angina
  • Inflammation in the Eustachian tube (Eustachitis).

The pathogens easily penetrate the organ of hearing with blood from pathological foci of the disease in the body, for example, in inflammation of the kidneys, dental caries and others.

To provoke the development of the inflammatory process in the middle part of the organ of hearing can other factors - injury, damage to the eardrum, water entering the ear when bathing.


Depending on the severity of the disease and the severity of the clinical picture of the inflammatory process, there are several forms of otitis media:

  1. Catarral - occurs most often, develops as a result of complications of ARVI (the most common pathology in pediatrics).
  2. Exudative form - characterized by the accumulation of pathological secretions in the eardrum and the Eustachian tube. The main cause of development is impaired air circulation in the Eustachian tube and may lead to hearing loss.
  3. Allergic form - develops against the background of the patient's susceptibility to allergies, for example, with bronchial asthma, atopic dermatitis, eczema weeping, allergic rhinitis.
  4. Purulent form - develops as the catarrhal otitis progresses, is characterized by the accumulation of pus in the cavity of the middle ear, intolerable acute pain and high fever.
  5. Unilateral or bilateral - depending on the lesion of one or both ears.
  6. Chronic - develops as a result of advanced acute otitis of the middle ear, whose treatment was not started on time or was ineffective.

In contrast to the acute form, the symptoms of chronic otitis media in adults may be absent for a long time or be insignificant - the patient simply does not pay attention to them.

Under the influence of predisposing factors (hypothermia, postponed acute respiratory infections and others) the chronic process is exacerbated and difficult to treat.

Symptoms of otitis media, photo

Symptoms of otitis media

otitis symptoms photo

The clinical symptoms of middle ear inflammation largely depend on the form of the disease, but the common manifestations of otitis media are:

  • Hearing impairment, feeling of stuffy ears (or one ear with unilateral lesion), tinnitus;
  • Increase in body temperature - with chronic otitis, the temperature can remain within the normal range, with purulent form, thermometer indicators reach 39-40 degrees;
  • Shooting ear pain radiating to half of the head, temple, neck, jaw, eyes;
  • Growing weakness;
  • Headache;
  • Nausea and vomiting may occur;
  • There is an unwillingness, because chewing movements only increase the pain.

With the development of a chronic form, the symptoms of otitis abruptly stop, pus mixed with blood may be emitted from the external auditory canal, and ear congestion remains for a long time.

If the disease is not treated, then serious complications can develop - frontal sinusitis, meningitis, sinusitis, antritis, neuritis, trigeminal neuralgia and others.

Otitis media in children

Otitis media in children

Inflammation of the ear is a common problem among infants and young children. This is due to the structural features of the ear canal - it is wide and short in babies, respectively, and the likelihood of infection in the middle ear is much higher than in adults.

Unlike a teenager or an adult, a baby cannot complain of pain and describe what it feels, so parents should be especially careful and consult a doctor immediately when the following symptoms appear:

  • The baby behaves restlessly at the breast, rushes about, makes a sucking movement and abruptly throws the nipple with crying. A new attempt at eating is accompanied by the same symptoms;
  • The child becomes lethargic, capricious, unable to sleep;
  • Refusing to eat;
  • When you press your finger on the trestle of the ear, the child starts crying.

Body temperature can remain normal or its indicators rise to subfebrile marks.

Treatment of otitis media

Treatment of otitis media

The earlier the otitis media is diagnosed and the treatment prescribed, the less likely the development of complications and chronic processes. ! Depending on the form of the disease, the treatment will be different, so the patient is strictly forbidden to select the drug on their own !

Conservative therapy is as follows:

  1. Any nasal drops - in case of otitis of the middle ear, 1-2 are administered in the ear canal. Preparations from this group help to expand the lumen of the ear canal, thereby relieving pain.
  2. Antihistamines - when diagnosing diseases of allergic origin.
  3. Glucocorticosteroids - prescribed for severe disease. The drugs in this group quickly relieve swelling and inflammation.
  4. Restorative drugs that stimulate the immune system.
  5. Vitamins.
  6. Antibiotics - for otitis of the purulent form or the accession of a bacterial infection. Depending on the severity of the disease, drugs of this group are prescribed in the form of tablets or injections.

After the acute inflammatory process subsides, as prescribed by a physician, physiotherapy can be applied - a quartz tube, warming with a blue lamp, ultrasound and electrophoresis.


To prevent the development of otitis, it is important to monitor the health of the whole body:

  • Time to treat viral infections and diseases of the nasopharynx;
  • Strengthen the immune system;
  • Carefully carry out hygienic procedures, using for cleaning the ears not a cotton swab or other hard objects, but a cotton swab moistened with saline, hydrogen peroxide or sterile oil.

Young children for otitis prophylaxis should thoroughly soak the auricles after bathing and ensure that water does not get into the ear.


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