Otitis is an inflammation of the ear. Ear infections can affect either the external auditory canal, in which case we speak of otitis externa, or the middle ear and especially the eardrum. They can be either acute, as in otitis externa or otitis media
, or chronic, like in otitis seromucous. They are most commonly benign, and resolve themselves spontaneously. Acute otitis media is by far the most common form and is often due to an infection caused by either a virus or a bacterium.
Symptoms of acute otitis media are quite characteristic. There is severe pain in the ear, which can be accompanied by an ear feeling clogged or suffering from hearing loss. Acute otitis media is generally associated with a cold, a fever and sometimes a discharge from the ear. In children, gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea
or vomiting may be present.
In otitis externa, pain experienced when pulling on the ear is fairly typical.
The diagnosis of otitis requires an examination of the inside of the ear with an otoscope. Generally, no further examination is necessary for diagnosis, the appearance of the eardrum and the external auditory canal are sufficient to make the diagnosis.
Treatment of acute otitis is essentially symptomatic. It aims to relieve pain, fever and to contain and treat the infection. Analgesics and have a dual effect, both on the fever and on the pain, and are associated with antibiotics for suspected bacterial infections. Meanwhile, an unblocking of the ear canal with saline or decongestants in older children is often practiced. In the case of a very painful ear infection or complications, or in the case of too frequent infections, a myringotomy with the insertion of trans-tympanic aerators, or dollies, through the eardrum may help to limit recurrence.
Paracentesis, or the putting in place of trans-tympanic aerators, can prevent the onset of a new episode of otitis after repeated inflammation or complications