Otitis Media (also known as 'ear disease' and 'middle ear infection') is the medical term for all forms of inflammation and infection of the middle ear.
Middle ear infections are a significant problem for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Left untreated, ear infections can lead to hearing loss which may limit a child’s capacity to develop socially and emotionally. Ear infections can also adversely affect educational outcomes.
Causes of Otitis Media
A child’s ear is connected to the nose by a tube (called the Eustachian tube). If a child has a cold, it’s likely their ears will get sick too. When mucus from a cold blocks the ear, air can’t get in and fluid can’t drain out of the middle ear. Left untreated, this can lead to Otitis Media (OM).
Types of Otitis Media
- Acute Otitis Media - an infection in the middle ear caused by a bacterial or viral infection (eg a cold).
- Otitis Media with effusion (also known as glue ear) - a persistent or recurring middle ear infection causing fluid accumulation in the middle ear.
- Chronic Suppurative Otitis Media (also known as runny ear) – a serious and persistent infection in the middle ear, often accompanied by discharge from the ear.
- Some studies suggest that up to 91% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in remote communities present with Otitis Media (OM).
- If middle ear infections go untreated they can cause long-term hearing loss.