Fluid in the Middle Ear

(Otitis Media with Effusion/Middle Ear Effusion)

What Is Otitis Media with Effusion?

Otitis media with effusion (also called secretory Otitis media and glue ear) is a persistent inflammation and accumulation of sticky fluid, or effusion, in the middle ear.

  • OME may develop within weeks of an acute episode of middle ear infection, but often the cause is unknown.

  • OME often occurs in both ears and while often  not as  painful as an acute infection still can causes ear fullness, pain and pressure. In turn, OME  may eventually lead to an actual  ear infection.

  • Different kinds of fluid may be present behind the eardrum, ranging from a yellow liquid to a thick, white material that resembles glue (hence the name, glue ear). Thicker fluid usually indicates more inflammation of the mucous membrane in the middle ear.

Recognizing Otitis Media with Effusion

OME can be much more difficult to diagnose than an acute middle ear infection, because it often has no obvious symptoms and the child usually does not appear to be ill.

  • The most common symptom a child may experience is a feeling of "fullness" in the ear.

  • Mild hearing loss is not unusual, but it may not be obvious. Instead a child might not respond to soft sounds or may appear to be inattentive in school.

How Is Otitis Media with Effusion Diagnosed?

Because there often are no clear symptoms to suggest that your child has Otitis media with effusion, your doctor may rely on one or several tests to make the diagnosis.

  • A physical examination may reveal fluid behind the eardrum and poor movement of the eardrum. The eardrum will look clear and have no signs of redness, but will not move in response to the air, as a normal eardrum would

  • A tympanometry test measures the amount of eardrum mobility, which is often very impaired.

  • A hearing test often shows some degree of hearing loss.

What Causes Otitis Media with Effusion?

OME may develop within weeks of an acute episode of middle ear infection, but in many cases the cause is unknown. It is often associated with an abnormal or malfunctioning Eustachian tube (Eustachian Tube Dysfunction or ETD)which causes negative pressure in the middle ear and leaking of fluid from tiny blood vessels, or capillaries, into the middle ear.

  • Problems with the Eustachian tube can be caused by viral infections, second-hand smoke, injury, or birth defects (such as cleft palate).

  • Fluid from the ears of children with chronic Otitis media with effusion usually does not show infection with bacteria. In some cases, however, the fluid may contain organisms such as Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae,Moraxella catarrhalis, or other bacteria.

How Is Otitis Media with Effusion Treated?

For young children ages one to three years, most physicians prefer a conservative, or "wait-and-see," approach, using antibiotics if the infection is persistent, the child is in pain, or there is evidence of hearing loss.

  • Most cases of Otitis media with effusion get better within three months without any treatment.

  • If your child continues to have repeated episodes of OME, despite taking antibiotics your doctor may decide to try long-term, low-dose treatment with antibiotics, even after the condition has cleared.

  • If OME persists for over three months, despite antibiotic treatment, your doctor may suggest a hearing test.

  • If OME persists for more than four to six months, even if hearing tests are normal, your doctor may suggest surgery to drain the eardrum and implant ear tubes for continuous drainage.

The EarPopper device is the latest treatment for Otitis Media with Effusion and has been clinically proven to treat this condition.  The root cause of the problem is Eustachian Tube Dysfunction (ETD).  The EarPopper opens the Eustachian Tube without any medication or myringotomy surgery.  The EarPopper opens the Eustachian tube naturally with air.

The air is delivered through the nose and diverted up the Eustachian tube while the person swallows.  The entire treatment only takes a few seconds – and it only occurs when you swallow while the air is blowing.

This treatment is known by Otolaryngologists as the Politzer Maneuver and is more commonly called Transnasal Eustachian Tube Inflation.  First discovered in 1860 by world famous Otologist Adam Politzer, he discovered that the Eustachian Tube could be opened safely and effectively with the right amount of air pressure and air flow.

The EarPopper is a modified Politzer Device that is simple to use by anyone suffering from ETD and/or Otitis Media with Effusion and it is currently being used as the front line treatment during the wait and see period to provide immediate relief and has been clinically proven to prevent the need for antibiotics and ear tube surgery.

Conditions Treated 

Summit Medical, an Innovia Medical Company  |  St. Paul, MN 55121

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The EarPopper is a prescription only device in the U.S.