Otitis Media is an inflammation of the middle ear. It occurs in the area between the tympanic membrane (the end of the outer ear) and the inner ear. It also includes a duct known as the eustachian tube.
Otitis media is most commonly causes by infection with viral, bacterial, or fungal pathogens. Viruses such as respiratory syncytial virus and those that cause the common cold may also result in otitis media by damaging the normal defenses of the epithelial cells in the upper respiratory tract.
A major risk factor for developing otitis media is Eustachian tube dysfunction, which leads to the ineffective clearing of bacteria from the middle ear. Also children under the age of seven are more prone to otitis media due to shorter eustachian tubes which are at a more horizontal angle than in the adult ear.
Many suggest the delay of antibiotics for acute bacterial otitis media for one to three days if pain is manageable by oral or topical analgesics. In chronic cases, a myringotomy is sometimes performed to insert a tympanostomy tube into the eardrum to allow air to pass through into the middle ear, and thus release any pressure buildup and help clear excess fluid within.