Ear infection - chronic - Symptom
Middle ear infection - chronic; Otitis media - chronic; Chronic otitis media; Chronic ear infection
A chronic, long-term infection in the ear may have less severe symptoms than an acute infection. It may go unnoticed and untreated for a long time.
Symptoms may include:
- Ear pain or discomfort that is usually mild and feels like pressure in the ear
- Fever, usually low-grade
- Fussiness in young infants
- Pus-like drainage from the ear
- Hearing loss
Note: Symptoms may persists or come and go, and may occur in one or both ears.
Signs and tests:
The health care provider will examine the ears. This may reveal:
- Dullness, redness in the middle ear
- Air bubbles in the middle ear
- Thick fluid in the middle ear
- Eardrum may stick to the bones in the middle ear
- Draining fluid from the eardrum
- A hole (perforation) in the eardrum
- The eardrum bulges out or pulls back inward (collapses)
Tests may include:
- Cultures of the fluid may show bacteria, and these bacteria may be resistant or harder to treat than the bacteria commonly involved in an acute ear infection.
- A CT scan of the head or mastoids may show that the infection has spread beyond the middle ear.
- Hearing tests may be needed.
- Reviewed last on: 5/1/2011
- Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
Chole RA, Sudhoff HH. Chronic otitis media, mastoiditis, and petrositis. In: Cummings CW, Flint PW, Haughey BH, Robbins KT, Thomas JR, eds. Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier;2005:chap 133.
Morris PS, Leach AJ. Acute and chronic otitis media. Pediatr Clin North Am. 2009 Dec;56(6):1383-99.
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