The middle ear is the small space behind the eardrum; this space is usually filled with . Otitis media is an infection of the middle ear that causes inflammation and a build-up of fluid. It is often extremely painful and be be associated with high fever.
Symptoms of otitis media:
In most cases the symptoms of a middle ear infection develop quickly and resolve in a few days. In some cases, pus may run out of the ear, this is the fluid that had built up behind the ear drum causing a small hole in the eardrum; this tends to heal up by itself.
Most cases of earache/otitis media in young children (under 5 years of age) are caused by viral infections; your child may also have a runny nose and cough. The Eustachian tube is a small tube that links the middle ear to the back of the throat. Its main job is to regulate air pressure in the ear. Its other function is to drain any fluid or mucus that builds up. The common 'cold' can cause the Eustachian to become blocked, causing a build up of fluid or mucus and resulting in earache.
If your child has any of the following:
Go to the nearest Hospital Emergency (A&E) Department or phone 999
Please ring your GP surgery or call NHS 111 - dial 111
If none of the above features are present
Continue providing your child’s care at home. If you are still concerned about your child, call NHS 111 – dial 111
Most children with otitis media (earache) do no require treatment with antibiotics. Antibiotics rarely speed up recovery and often cause side effects such as rash and diarrhoea. They will also promote the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria in your child.
Antibiotics are usually only considered if your child:
In addition, if your child has any features of severe infection (amber or red features above), they will need to be urgently assessed by a healthcare professional
You can help relieve symptoms by:
Is it not possible to prevent ear infections; however, you can do things that may reduce your child's chances of developing the condition:
This guidance is written by healthcare professionals from across Hampshire, Dorset and the Isle of Wight.