Acute Otitis Media


Acute otitis media is the most common infection in childhood needing antibiotics. It is an infection of the middle ear causing fluid and inflammation.


Acute otitis media in adults usually presents with pain, decreased hearing and is sometimes preceded by seasonal allergies or an upper respiratory tract infection. If there is a sudden improvement of pain with fluid leaking out of the ear, it may mean that the tympanic membrane ruptured.

Acute otitis media in children usually presents with tugging at the ear, hearing loss, drainage from the ear, fever may also be present.

Younger children may present with loss of appetite, being fussy, vomiting, decreased sleep and diarrhea.


The diagnosis of acute otitis media is based on the examination of the ear and symptoms.

On otoscopic exam there will be bulging of the tympanic membrane and reduced mobility of tympanic membrane when pressure is applied.

There may or may not be redness and opacification of the tympanic membrane.


Adults with acute otitis media should be treated with antibiotics.

Children with acute otitis media may require antibiotics, depending on the severity of the symptoms and the age of the child affected.. If mild symptoms antibiotics may not be necessary.

A pain reliever can be given to help alleviate the pain.


Acute otitis media may cause a rupture of the tympanic membrane in the ear.