Middle Ear Fluid
Rodney Lusk, M.D.
Hi, I'm Doctor Rodney Lusk, Director of the Boys Town Ear, Nose and Throat Institute.
Middle ear fluid occurs behind the eardrum. It is also called otitis media with effusion.
Fluid in the middle ear may or may not be associated with an acute infection.
Clear or serous fluid usually is associated with Eustachian tube dysfunction from allergies or upper respiratory tract infections that have not necessarily infected the middle ear.
Infected middle ear fluid may appear white with the eardrum appearing red from the inflammation.
Red or bloody fluid is usually secondary to trauma to the middle ear from diving or flying.
Your child's physician will determine if there is middle ear fluid by examining the ear with otoscope or with a microscope. If symptoms occur because of an infection your child may complain of ear pain, decreased hearing or have a fever.
These bacterial infections are usually treated with broad-spectrum antibiotics.
The type of antibiotic used depends on the duration of the infection, how frequently they are occurring, and the severity of the symptoms.
If tubes are in place or if there is a perforation then topical antibiotic drops is the best way to treat the infection.
Upper respiratory tract infections or colds are viral infections. Since antibiotics do not treat viral infections some doctors will recommend observation and pain management instead of antibiotics.
Almost everyone will have fluid in their ear at some point. If your child is showing signs of ear discomfort or pain, please contact your physician for an evaluation.
For more information and videos on pediatric ear, nose and throat problems please visit to boystownent.org