Serous otitis media: causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

What is serous otitis media? This is a fairly serious ailment, characterized by the accumulation of a huge amount of sulfur in the ear canals. When identifying this problem, it is definitely worth starting treatment. When the pathological process begins to develop, most often the first side effect from it is inflammation, it appears due to viral agents.

otitis media in adults

What are the features of the development of the disease?

In most cases, this ailment can be determined by some criteria: a person’s ear canals swell, and the eardrum becomes red. Upon delivery of bacterial culture, pathogenic organisms will certainly be available - they are the causative agents of the disease.

After the first signs appear, inflammation of the auditory tube begins due to the high accumulation of sulfur in it. Very often you can notice that during the inflammatory process a person loses a little auditory perception. While swallowing saliva, congestion in the ear is clearly felt. What triggers the occurrence of the disease?

In more than fifty percent of cases, inflammation of the auditory tube appears due to bacterial agents, and in all other cases, fungus or viruses are to blame. Most often, the doctor uses a conservative method of treatment, but if a person has already advanced stage of the disease, then in this case he will need surgery.

If you try to understand on your own what this disease is, then in the initial stages of its development an inexperienced person can easily confuse him with purulent otitis media, all this because in both cases the malfunction of the Eustachian tubes is manifested. Most cases are recorded in newborns. The causative agents are most often parainfluenza or influenza viruses.

It is worth noting that very often those children who were born with a “cleft palate” show the development of serous otitis media. In order to get rid of this ailment, a variety of treatment methods are used.

otitis media in children

The actions of a specialist in detecting a disease

After the diagnosis of serous otitis media, the very first event that is carried out to get rid of the disease is the rehabilitation of the oral cavity and nasopharynx. For this, the doctor takes the necessary medications and injects them into the ear canal.

As for the nasal cavity, it is treated with special vasoconstrictor drugs. Each time, the doctor is required to prescribe individually the duration of treatment, since each person may have a variety of symptoms of the course of the disease and stage of neglect.

If otitis in a person is provoked by allergic reactions, then it can be cured with the help of special antihistamines. In no case should you self-medicate, and all procedures should be carried out strictly after permission and under the supervision of a doctor.

If, after two weeks, the patient does not experience improvement, then the doctor is obliged to take measures of surgical intervention - bypassing the inflammatory process of the middle ear. This option further contributes to the acceleration of treatment. There are situations when a person needs to install drainage, but this only happens when the inflammation has spread from the ear canal and to other areas.

serous otitis media

Causes of serous otitis media

Most often, the development of this pathological process can be noticed in the presence of some factors provoking it:

  • The appearance of viral agents in the ear canals;
  • Eustachian tubes begin to malfunction;
  • If pathogens were able to defeat the immune system and have a negative effect on the ear canal.

The initial stage of serous otitis media in children can occur even if the Eustachian tubes were disturbed for a short period of time. These pipes are distinguished by the fact that they are responsible for ear protection, ventilation and have a drainage function.

Therefore, this disease is observed more often in young children than in adults, because the Eustachian tubes are not yet fully developed and are in a virtually horizontal position. Otitis can also occur in preschool children, because they have a tendency to frequent colds and viruses.

If a person has a predisposition to allergic reactions, which most develop in the upper organs of the respiratory system, then he should also be afraid of the development of serous otitis media.

In fact, every specialist otolaryngologist claims that those people who suffer from allergies throughout the year also suffer from this ailment. At risk of the disease can also be attributed to those patients who have a predisposition to the appearance of atopy for food.

What are the clinical manifestations of this disease?

If the stage of development of inflammation has an initial stage, then you can notice the manifestation of symptoms such as:

  • The inflammatory process in the mucosa. Most often, it has a catarrhal nature.
  • Violation of the ventilation.
  • In the Eustachian tubes, the development of the inflammatory process is also noted.

Middle ear inflammation - symptoms in an adult patient

Depending on how the pathology develops, a person may begin to hear himself in the ear - this is due to the fact that a vacuum appears in the tympanic cavity. If the stage of development of the pathology is of an initial nature, then the violation of sound perception is not very pronounced. This stage has a duration of about a month.

After the next stage begins, which is characterized by the accumulation of exudate in the eardrum. The amount of mucus in the middle ear becomes much more than normal. From this, a person begins to feel noise, an overcrowded ear.

One of the main symptoms of middle ear inflammation in an adult is the feeling of a transfusion of fluid inside. This is especially noticeable if there is a sharp change in body position. In fact, this is exactly what happens inside, the accumulated fluid in the ear apparatus begins to really shift. This stage can develop for a long time, sometimes it happens that its duration reaches several months. It is worth noting that the symptoms of each person, to the extent of the individuality of the body, proceeds differently.

Disease progression

The development of the pathology does not end there and the third stage of the disease, called mucous, appears. During this period, the fluid that has accumulated in the ear cavity becomes viscous. A person begins to hear much worse. The next, fourth stage of the development of the inflammatory process is fibrous, it indicates the beginning of degenerative processes in the ear mucosa.

In most cases, if the tympanic cavity is subjected to degenerative processes , then the changes are irreversible. At this point, the production of exudate is significantly reduced in quantity, and the surface of the mucosa changes.

Also, do not forget about the auditory ossicles, which are also involved in the degenerative process. Most often, the most pronounced manifestation of this disease at the last station is pronounced deafness.

diagnosis of serous otitis media

Key features

This pathology occurs in each person in different ways. Therefore, it is worthwhile to understand that if serous exudate accumulates in the ear canals, but at the same time it is not accompanied by any signs of an inflammatory process, then most likely it is serous otitis media.

It can progress long enough, but at the same time have a mild or even absent inflammatory process. The fluid that accumulates in the ear canal does not begin to transform into purulent. Most often, a person feels a certain stuffiness in the ear, especially when he swallows saliva or food.

The main diagnostic measures for the disease

In order to understand whether there is an inflammatory process or not, otoscopy is mandatory. When carrying out it, you can determine the condition of the eardrum, and also understand how much fluid is in it. If a person still suffers from serous otitis media, then most often the color of the liquid becomes either yellow or gray.

In addition, you can also find out about the presence of an inflammatory process using tympanometry. This diagnostic method helps to determine the correct operation of the Eustachian tubes and the level of accumulated secretion. Frequent treatment in this case is ear blowing. The procedure consists in introducing air under pressure into the auditory tube using a spray can. With successful blowing, the patient feels a blowing noise. After this, the discomfort disappears. Ear blowing can also be performed using a catheter.

treatment of serous otitis media

Therapeutic measures prescribed most often

In no case should you postpone therapy if a chronic or acute form of this disease is detected. Most often, the disease can be cured using conservative methods that help the patient restore good quality of sound perception and return all lost functions.

General principles of therapy

These include three main principles:

  • The first is compliance with a special regime. This does not mean that a person must observe bed rest. Mandatory principles are the constant ventilation of the room, observing the humidity in it, regular wet cleaning, and if this is not possible, it is best to purchase and install an air humidifier.
  • The second principle is that a person should exclude a potential allergen from life, which can provoke a reaction and stimulate the development of this disease. If this is not done, then getting rid of serous otitis media will be a big problem.
  • If the disease is developed in a small child, it is best to keep it in a semi-vertical position when feeding it from a bottle, and after feeding it, hold the baby horizontally for a while so that it can burp.

How to treat the disease with medication?

In most cases, in the treatment of serous otitis media, such medications are prescribed as:

  • Histamine blockers - these drugs are popular if a person has allergic reactions.
  • Corticosteroids.
  • Vasoconstrictors - they are used to instill nasal passages.
  • Antimicrobial drugs, very often they come in the form of a solution to be administered intramuscularly.
  • Medicines aimed at eliminating the swelling of the mucosa, as well as at restoring the work of the Eustachian tubes.

As with other diseases, the dosage and duration of use of the drug is prescribed exclusively by a specialist. It all depends on how the disease is started and how the pathological process proceeds.

symptoms of serous otitis media

Radical Therapy Options

Sometimes there are very neglected situations in which a conservative method of treatment is absolutely useless. Then surgical intervention is required, which will help the patient get rid of serous otitis media.

If growth and exacerbation of adenoids is noticed, then this means that a compression disorder occurs in the eardrum, which also affects the work of the auditory canals. In this embodiment, the removal of inflamed adenoids is performed.

You can also carry out catheterization of the auditory canals, which will lead to a normalization of the level of compression of the eardrum. After the procedure, the level of hearing is significantly improved, and the work of the Eustachian tubes is normalized.

The specialist himself decides how to carry out the surgical intervention, and the severity of the disease in the patient must be taken into account.

inflammatory process of the middle ear

What are the predictions after treatment?

In newborn babies, a disease such as otitis media can both quickly develop and quickly recover, the main thing is to start therapy on time. If this is not done, then the consequences may be irreversible, the child will receive hearing loss, which will also affect the development of the speech apparatus.

For children of preschool and school age, treatment should also be started on time in order not to provoke hearing loss in the future, which after treatment will be virtually impossible.

For adults, the prognosis for absolute recovery is more favorable, even if surgery has been performed.


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