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Otitis media is a term used to describe a middle ear infection. It can be recurrent or chronic and can stem from various causes. It is usually due to a buildup of fluid in the middle ear or the blockage of the eustachian tube. The infection is facilitated by a persistently-draining perforation of the eardrum (tympanic membrane perforation).


  • Acute, untreated ear infections
  • Eustachian tube blockage
  • Flare-up after a cold, flu, or upper respiratory tract infection
  • Water that enters the middle ear through a perforation in the ear drum

Some people with chronic otitis media develop a cholesteatoma, a noncancerous growth of skin like material around the eardrum.


You may either receive antibiotic ear drops or oral antibiotics. If an eardrum perforation is present, water must be kept out of the ear. If the eardrum or hearing bones (ossicles) have been damaged, surgery may be required.

Eardrum perforation is repaired with a procedure called myringoplasty.

Damaged ossicles are fixed with a procedure called tympanoplasty

If the mastoid bone has been damaged or is hard to reach, you may need a mastoidectomy or canalplasty. 

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