The Effects And Causes of Otitis Media

Otitis media (also referred to as OME or otitis media with effusion) is about a blockage of the Eustachian tube causing a backing up of fluid (mucus) in the inner ear.

The Eustachian tube is positioned on both sides of the head running from the ear to the back of the nose. These tubes purpose is to open and allow air to flow into it pushing the mucus out through the mouth/nose to free up the inner ear from mucus.

When this happens, it can cause an assortment of problems from pressure in the ear(s), tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and hearing loss. With the fluid captive in the middle ear, the tympanic membrane (ear drums) can’t move the way they need to to create and interpret vibrations from ambient sounds.

This blockage tenses up the ear drums and causes them to not vibrate fully causing a loss of hearing range and even severe dullness of sound. Worse, it can create severe tinnitus forming, ringing, noise, and scratchy sounds to form from ambient sounds.

Since the sounds can’t properly vibrate the inner ear and the balance is off in the ear drums (pressure caused), nothing comes in clearly. Many sounds translate as just noise from low to high pitched. It can be maddening! Worse, this can cause infections to form in the ear canal. This is when you’re cleaning your ears in frustration trying to make the sound stop (that won’t work by the way).

Some things that cause Otitis Media are:Otitis Media

– Colds, flu, upper respiratory tract infections, any kind of infections (cause mucus to form heavily)

– Allergy’s and allergic rhinitis

– Smoke from tobacco or nicotine smoke

– Rapid changes in atmospheric pressure (such as driving up and down steep mountain roads or the sensation in a plane as you come into a landing pattern)

Because of the anatomy of young children, development of otitis media is pretty common. Their Eustachian tubes are shorter/smaller due to their size. They are also horizontal and less firm with smaller openings. This all is a ripe environment for a blockage.

One reason kids who swim in a pool can easily contract earaches is the build up of fluid in the Eustachian tubes happens quite easily reacting to the chlorine in pool water.

Many who suffer (adult and children) from recurring otitis media often have enlarged adenoids. This is a collection of lymphoid tiOtitis Mediassues found by the nasal passages. They’ve discovered that children who’ve been breast fed don’t tend to get this affliction easily.

What’s alarming is if the otitis media isn’t infected it won’t cause any noticeable pain or irritation. This means it can go unchecked for a long time and lead to more serious problems. The noticeable symptoms in older kids are a numbness in hearing, feeling pressure (like ears full of water), in the infected ear(s).

Otitis MediaYour doctor can figure out if you have fluid build up in the inner ear or if the Eustachian tubes are blocked. Often when left unchecked it can lead to a series of problems including painful infections (fluid build up causes this too), vomiting, and fever (from the infection).

Treatment for this condition comes in active and inactive treatments. Active would be watching the diet (sugar/salts), being careful not to become exposed to dust, pollen, smoke, and other allergens. Inactive would be watching stress and strain levels, remaining calm as to not agitate the condition.


More often than not,  this condition works itself out after a few weeks or months time. Some things that help alleviate Otitis Media symptoms in the meantime are decongestants, nasal sprays for and anti-histamine therapy.

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