About This Condition
Many children suffer recurrent infections of the middle ear, a condition also known as otitis media (OM).
Ear infections can cause irritability, difficulty sleeping, runny nose, fever, fluid draining from the ear, loss of balance, mild to severe ear pain, and hearing difficulty. Untreated infections can cause permanent hearing impairment and can also spread to other parts of the head, including the brain. Frequent or persistent ear infections in children can reduce their hearing when normal hearing is critical for speech and language development.
Chronic infections or persistent fluid in the ear many require myringotomy, an operation in which small “tympanostomy tubes” are inserted in the affected eardrums. The procedure equalizes ear pressure and allows drainage of fluid from the middle ear. Enlarged or infected adenoids may be removed (adenoidectomy) during the myringotomy procedure. Though frequently performed, myringotomy has not consistently demonstrated long-term efficacy for preventing recurrent ear infections. 1