Middle Ear Infections (Otitis Media)

A Common type of middle ear problem Otitis Media is an inflammatory disease which generally comes under the bracket of either Acute Otitis Media (AOM) or Otitis Media with Effusion. (OME)

AOM is an ear infection which is associated with pain of some sort. When the middle ear has either an infection or inflammation this can cause discomfort, and this is known as AOM.

The condition happens more so in children because their eustachian tubes are not fully formed which in turn can cause a route to infection and inflammation.

The following symptoms are common with AOM

Children will cry ad complain of a sore ear
The ear will be irritable, and you may want to keep playing with your ear
You may suffer from a lack of sleep
You may begin to pull on your ears to ease the discomfort
Sore ear
You may experience pain in the neck, or you may develop a headache
You may have fever like symptoms
Sickness and diarrhoea
You may notice your hearing feels dull and not clear
You may feel like you have some balance issues

Common Causes Of AOM

The problem originates in the middle ear which is a cavity that houses your middle ear bones. This cavity has a tube known as the Eustachian tube which opens and closes to equalise the pressure in the middle ear with atmospheric pressure & to drain the mucus from the middles ear cavity by connecting to the back of the throat. If for some reason the muscle at the bottom of the eustachian tube cant equalise the pressure or drain the mucus the trap fluid in the middle ear cavity can become infected.

The reason children suffer from AOM more than adults is that their eustachian tube is sorter and more horizontal therefore gravity does not aid the draining of the tube as much as it would in an adult.

Blockage can result for several reasons

You may have a heavy cold or flu
You may have an infection in your sinuses
Allergies can also cause irritation
Your adenoids may be enlarged or infected
If you are exposed to cigarette smoke
If children are drinking while lying down

How will I be diagnosed for AOM?

There are a few ways to check for OM. If you feel you may have OM you should consult your GP immediately. If @ Lanarkshire Hearing Centre we suspect you have OM will automatically write you a referral letter to see your GP. We will not diagnose you with OM but will refer to your GP to diagnose your case.


Otoscopy is when we use a torch with a magnifying glass to look down your ear canal and look past your ear drum.

What we will look for is:
Impacted ear wax. Is this the cause of the irritation – For more information on impacted ear wax see here
Is there a redness or swelling in your middle ear or ear canal?
Is there blood or puss present?
Is there air bubbles or fluid in the middle ear
Does the eardrum look normal? Is it the correct colour and shape?
Does the ear drum have a perforation?
Is there fluid in the ear canal which has a smell?
For more info on an ear examination see here


Also known as Tymps this test will check the function of your middle ear. Basically, it measure the efficiency of the ear drum and will be used alongside inspection of the ear to determine if the middle ear has an issue.

For more information on Tymps see here

Hearing Test

A simple hearing test can tell us whether or not you are experiencing middle ear issues. If the middle ear cavity or ear drum is not performing as well as it should it will show up on a hearing test graph.

A combination of the above methods can be used to diagnose the problem.


Your GP may provide you with some home treatments and pain killers. If this is not successful then they will provide you with a course in anti-biotics.

Home Care: ( We would recommend you speak with your pharmacist)

Prepare a warm and moist clean cloth and apply it over the infected ear
See your pharmacist explain the condition
Use OTC ear drops for relieving any pain (See pharmacist)
Take OTC pain relief such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen 


Your Dr will supply you with antibiotics if home treatment is not successful. More GP’s are avoiding the prescription of antibiotics to prevent overuse and risk of adverse reactions.


More so in children with chronic condition. Adenoids may be removed if enlarged or infected and condition is chronic.

Ear Tubes 

Most people will be familiar with grommets. Ear tubes will allow air and fluid to drain from the middle ear and relieve the pain.


You can reduce your chances or your child’s chances of AOM by carrying out the following:
Wash your hands on a regular basis
Make sure your child’s toys are cleaned regularly
Avoid smoking or exposing yourself to people who smoke
Ask your GP about seasonal flu jabs 
Avoid giving your infant a pacifier
For more information please see the following links: