Otitis Media, Pediatric
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Otitis media occurs when there is inflammation and fluid in the middle ear with signs and symptoms of an acute infection. The middle ear is a part of the ear that contains bones for hearing as well as air that helps send sounds to the brain. When infected fluid builds up in this space, it causes pressure and results in an ear infection. The eustachian tube connects the middle ear to the back of the nose (nasopharynx). It normally allows air into the middle ear and drains fluid from the middle ear. If the eustachian tube becomes blocked, fluid can build up and become infected.
This condition is more likely to develop in children who are younger than 7 years old. Before age 7, the ear is shaped in a way that can cause fluid to collect in the middle ear, making it easier for bacteria or viruses to grow. Children of this age also have not yet developed the same resistance to viruses and bacteria as older children and adults.
This condition is diagnosed with a physical exam. During the exam, your child's health care provider will use an instrument called an otoscope to look in your child's ear. He or she will also ask about your child's symptoms.
This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.
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