Dr. M.J. Bazos, MD. Patient Handout

About Your Diagnosis

Otitis media is an infection involving the middle ear (the area between the eardrum and the Eustachian tube). This area contains the nerves and small bones vital for hearing. Otitis media can affect individuals of any age, but is most common in infants and children. It can be caused by viruses or bacteria
that travel to the middle ear through the Eustachian tube, usually during an upper respiratory tract infection. It can also be caused by allergies, which cause the sinuses and eustachian tube to become blocked, or by the rupture of the eardrum. Otitis media is curable with treatment. Complications can occur if untreated, such as hearing loss, mastoiditis, or chronic infections.

Living With Your Diagnosis
Signs and symptoms include pain in the ear with a feeling of fullness or stuffiness, loss of hearing, fever, and drainage from the ear. These may occur along with a cold or shortly after. Your doctor will look in the ear to check for redness and protruding of the eardrum.

Antibiotics will be needed. Eardrops or heat applied to the ear may help relieve the pain. Nonaspirin medications can be given to reduce fever and pain. Rest is recommended until the fever and pain subside. No special diet is needed, but fluid intake should be increased to help thin secretions.

The DOs
• Take antibiotics as prescribed. Finish all the medication because the infection can still be present even after the symptoms subside.
• Use nonaspirin medications to reduce fever and pain.
• Use heat (a heating pad or hot water bottle wrapped in a towel) to the ear to reduce pain.
• Increase fluid intake.
• Rest until the fever and pain are gone.

The DON’Ts
• Don’t skip doses or stop taking the antibiotics.
• Don’t swim until the infection clears.
• Avoid prolonged exposure to cigarette smoke. In young children this can increase the chance of repeat infections.
• Don’t put anything in the ear other than the drops prescribed by your doctor.

When to Call Your Doctor
• The earache lasts longer than 2 days after treatment starts.
• There is a severe headache or fever that continues after treatment starts.
• There is redness or swelling behind the ear.
• Dizziness is present.