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Ear Infection (Otitis Media)

Otitis media is an infection of the middle ear, the space between the eardrum and the delicate structures of the inner ear. Typically, it occurs when viruses, causing an upper respiratory tract infection (such as a cold) or bacteria migrate along the eustachian tube (the passageway between the nasal passages and the middle ear).

Infection often causes the tube to become blocked, producing a vacuum-like effect and preventing the mucus, pus, and other fluids produced during an infection from draining out of the middle ear. This causes pain as these fluids exert pressure on the eardrum.

Middle ear infection is very common in children and it tends to recur, especially in:

  • Winter
  • Children who attend daycare or school
  • Children who are exposed to tobacco smoke
  • Children with conditions that affect the anatomy of the skull, face or throat

Approach to surgical treatment

Our team of pediatric otolaryngologists (ENTs) at the Johns Hopkins Division of Pediatric Otolaryngology evaluates children who have recurring ear infections by first examining them and then ordering a hearing test to determine if the child has hearing loss. Knowing if a child’s hearing is being affected by the ear infections will impact the recommended treatment.

If it is determined that your child may need surgery because they suffer from recurring ear infections (otitis media), your pediatric otolaryngologist (ENT) may suggest tympanostomy tubes, known as ear tubes or PE tubes.

Antibiotics for treatment

Our doctors follow established guidelines to determine which patients should be considered for surgery, and which patients can continue to receive antibiotics for their infections.

Make an Appointment

Please call us at 443-997-6467 (443-997-OHNS) to make an appointment at any of our three locations.

Jonathan Walsh and pediatric patient

An Incisionless Approach to Ear Drum Repair

Taking advantage of enhanced visualization through a high-definition endoscopic approach, pediatric otolaryngologists repair perforated eardrums in a minimally invasive and less painful manner.

Learn more.