January 08, 2021
Acute otitis media (AOM) is a very common type of ear infection which usually occurs in children but can occur in adults.
Often the cause is a viral infection i.e.“ a cold” which results in inflammation behind the ear drum with consequent severe ear ache, deafness, buzzing in the ear and a temperature.
The ear drum appears red and bulging.
A perforation of the ear drum may occur and is suggested by increasing ear pain which suddenly gets better with the appearance of pus and blood coming out of the affected ear. The patient usually gets rapidly better and the perforation heals spontaneously.
Antibiotics may be given in specific situations such as: –
At present the evidence to support the use of antibiotic ear drops in AOM with an ear discharge i.e. suspected perforated ear drum, is unproven and there is a risk of injury to the inner ear if the ear drop contains an aminoglycoside based antibiotic.
A very small number of patients develop severe complications such as weakness of the face muscles, mastoiditis (where the bone behind the ear becomes very red and tender), meningitis and brain abscesses. All of these complications require urgent diagnosis and treatment.