Middle Ear Infection or Inflammation (Otitis Media)

  • Medical Author:
    David Perlstein, MD, MBA, FAAP

    Dr. Perlstein received his Medical Degree from the University of Cincinnati and then completed his internship and residency in pediatrics at The New York Hospital, Cornell medical Center in New York City. After serving an additional year as Chief Pediatric Resident, he worked as a private practitioner and then was appointed Director of Ambulatory Pediatrics at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

  • Medical Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

Ear Infection Slideshow Pictures

Quick GuideAnatomy of an Ear Infection Pictures Slideshow: Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Anatomy of an Ear Infection Pictures Slideshow: Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

What limitations are there on a child with middle ear infection or inflammation?

Otitis media is not contagious (although the initial cold that caused it may be). A child with otitis media can travel by airplane but, if the Eustachian tube is not working well, the pressure change as the plane descends may cause the child pain. It is best not to fly (or swim) with a draining ear. You should always consult your physician if you have specific concerns.

Can otitis media (middle ear infection or inflammation) be prevented?

Currently the best way to prevent acute otitis media is to assure a child is vaccinated. Ensuring that your child receives an annual flu vaccine and is up to date with his/her pneumococcal vaccine is the best way to prevent the most common causes of otitis media. In addition both early and sustained breastfeeding (for at least 6 months) and avoidance of tobacco spoke exposure have been shown to be related to fewer ear infections. Recent studies suggest that Xylitol based gum or lozenges may have a preventive impact on acute otitis media. Unfortunately it cannot be used in young children, and must be used 3-5 times a day during the cold and flu season to be effective.

Medically reviewed by Peter O'Connor, MD; American Board of Otolaryngology with subspecialty in Sleep Medicine

REFERENCES:

Coleman et al. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2008 July 16;(3)

Lieberthal A et al. Clinical Practice Guideline: The Diagnosis and Management of Acute Otitis Media. Pediatrics. March 2013. 131:3.e964-e999.

MedscapeReference.com. Emergent Management of Acute Otitis Media.

MedscapeReference.com. Pneumatic Otoscope Examination.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/2/2015

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