Otitis media is the acute infection of the middle ear caused by streptococcus pneumoniae or Haemophilus infuenzae. It is one of the most common childhood diseases. It occurs mostly between the ages of 6 months to 2 years.

There are three classifications for this disease:

  • Acute otitis media: rapid, short onset of signs/symptoms lasting three weeks
  • Otitis media with effusion: aka glue ear, a hole in the tympanic membrane which pus leaks from
  • Chronic otitis media with effusion: lasting more than three months


Risk factors

  • parental smoking
  • early discontinuation of breast feeding
  • allergy predisposition
  • under 24 months
  • daycare attendance



With OM there is usually dysfunction of the Eustachian tube. This is caused by inflammation of the mucous membranes in the nasopharynx from virus, bacteria, or allergies. This causes gases to be absorbed by surrounding tissues and negative pressure. The negative pressure causes fluid from surrounding tissues being drawn into the middle ear cavity, causing OME.


Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRAI0Pb8sDA



  • ear pain: infants may grab at ear, rub it, or lull head side to side
  • irritability
  • ear drums may appear grey and bulging
  • a feeling of fullness in the ear
  • fluid of pus draining from the ear
  • possible impaired hearing
  • may be present with rhinorrhea and cough



  • Antibiotic therapy
  • Pain relief: paracetamol
  • Surgery: myringotomy or tympanotomy tubes (grommets).







Ramakrishnan, K., Sparks, R., & Berryhill, W. (2007). Diagnosis and treatment of ottis media. American Family Physician, 76(11), 1650-1658. Retreived from http://www.aafp.org

Saxton, D., Nugent, P., & Pelikan, P. (2003). Mosby’s comprehensive review of nursing for NCLEX-RN (2nd ed). St Louis, MO: Mosby.