Topic Overview

Complications from
ear infections are rare, but they can arise. Some
problems that can occur include:

  • Trouble hearing. Hearing problems are usually
    mild to moderate and are usually temporary. Long-lasting hearing loss is rare.
    But some children may have problems learning to talk and to understand
    speech if they have repeat ear infections.
  • Rupture of the eardrum. If fluid continues to build up in the
    middle ear, the eardrum may burst. This leaves a small hole that often heals
    within 2 weeks.

Another complication of acute ear infections is ongoing inflammation
of the middle ear, a condition called chronic suppurative otitis media. The
major symptom of this condition is repeat or ongoing drainage of pus from the
ear through a small hole in the eardrum. Many children with chronic suppurative
otitis media have some hearing loss. Antibiotic therapy is the usual treatment for
this condition.

The following complications may also develop if there are repeat ear
infections:

  • Tissue growth behind the eardrum (cholesteatoma).
    If the tissue grows large enough, it can block the middle ear and affect
    hearing. Surgery is necessary to remove the growth.
  • Damage to the
    tiny bones in the middle ear

Rare complications include infection in the:

  • Bone that is located behind the ear
    (mastoiditis).
  • Tissues surrounding the brain and spinal cord
    (meningitis).

These problems are rare, and they are becoming even more rare.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Susan C. Kim, MD – Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD – Pediatrics

Current as ofMay 4, 2017

Current as of:
May 4, 2017