The middle ear is the space behind the eardrum. Although it produces a small amount of fluid, it normally drains out of the ear through the Eustachian tube, the tube that connects the middle ear to the back of the throat.
What is Middle Ear Effusion?
When fluid build up behind the middle ear, this called middle ear effusion, or serous otitis media, or otitis media with effusion. This condition is common, especially in children age two years or younger. It rarely occurs after age eight.
Middle Ear Effusion occurs when the Eustachian tube is blocked and/or the lining of the middle ear produces too much fluid, and often happens after a cold or ear infection. Unlike an ear infection, middle ear effusion does not usually cause pain.
Symptoms of a middle ear effusion include:
- Hearing problems
- Unresponsiveness or inattentiveness
- Slow learning
- Slow speech development
The most common complication involves temporary hearing loss. Yet if this condition is properly treated and monitored, it rarely does lasting damage.
Ear Tube Surgery
Most children recover from middle ear effusions on their own. However, if after three months the fluid has not drained, ear tubes may be necessary.
Your child will be put under general anesthesia while a skilled surgeon places a small drainage tube through your child’s ear drum. This tube will help drain the fluid, and your child’s hearing should improve right away. We may also recommend the use of special earplugs to prevent water from going into the ears.
Our pediatric experts at Northwest ENT Surgery Center will explain the procedure to your child in “kid” friendly terms. We also encourage parents to ask questions to ensure both parent and child are comfortable with the treatment.
Call (678) 483-8833 to learn more about our pediatric ENT services at Northwest ENT Surgery Center.