What is a Middle Ear Infection?

Acute otitis media (AOM) remains one of the most common condition for which antibiotics are prescribed. AOM can present in a myriad of different ways, ranging from fever, ear tugging and holding of the ear. On clinical examination, a bulging tympanic membrane can be seen. Usually patients are given a course of antibiotics.

Otitis media with effusion (OME) is characterized by the accumulation of fluid in the middle ear behind the tympanic membrane. Most cases will resolve spontaneously however there are some cases persists and causes hearing loss. Patients with persistent middle ear effusion may require surgical treatment with ventilation tubes.


What is the difference between middle ear infection and outer ear infection?

An outer ear infection is also known as otitis externa. This means that there is infection/inflammation over the ear canal. In a middle ear infection, the infection/inflammation is in the middle ear cavity.

Can I still swim with a middle ear infection?

In the acute phase of a middle ear infection (acute otitis media), it may be best to avoid swimming to prevent pain and discomfort. If you are quite well and have otitis media with effusion, you can proceed with swimming. However, should there be discomfort and pain, it is best to stay out of the water for some time.

Why does my child need a Grommet tube insertion?

Grommet tubes or tympanostomy tube insertion is a placement of a tube into the tympanic membrane. This procedure is usually indicated in cases of persistent middle ear effusion and sometimes needed for acute otitis media with complications. After the middle ear effusion is cleared, the hearing improves as well.

The insertion of tube is usually done under general anesthesia in children and under local anesthesia in adults. It is performed using a microscope and is a fast and effective procedure.

Can I still swim after grommet tube placement?

Yes, you can continue to swim. However, avoid diving during this period.

What happens to the grommet tube?

The grommet tube will extrude naturally. Your doctor should be reviewing you regularly to ensure the grommet tube comes out on its own. Rarely is it ever necessary to remove the grommet tube.