Otitis media with effusion is fluid in the space behind the eardrum
(middle ear). This condition occurs when a blockage of the tube that connects
the throat and middle ear (eustachian tube) prevents fluid from draining
normally out of the middle ear space and prevents air from entering the middle
Fluid in the middle ear may:
Cause sounds to be muffled.
mild discomfort. The pain usually increases with changes in atmospheric
pressure, such as increasing cabin pressure when an airplane is coming down to
Create an environment for the growth of viruses or bacteria,
which may cause infection. But fluid in the middle ear does not always
mean that an infection is present.
The body usually reabsorbs the fluid that is behind the eardrum within
weeks. As the fluid is reabsorbed, hearing gradually returns to normal. If
fluid is still present in the middle ear after a few months, or if it is accompanied
by prolonged fever and other symptoms, then antibiotic treatment may be
Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics & Charles M. Myer, III, MD - Otolaryngology
The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.