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Otitis Media (Ear Infection)

What is Otitis Media? What is an ear infection?

Otitis media is inflammation or infection of your middle ear - located between the eardrum and the inner ear and includes the eustachian tubes.   This area can become blocked with mucus, bacteria, or pus and an infection can develop.


Ear infections are more common in young children and infants, but can also occur in adults.  They are also more common in the winter than any other time of year.  While ear infections are not contagious, they sometimes develop after and as a result of a separate, contagious disease (such as a cold).

Types of Ear Infections

Acute otitis media causes pain, fever, and difficulty in hearing.

Otitis media with effusion occurs when there is no longer an ear infection, but fluid remains in the middle ear.

Signs of Ear Infection in Very Young Children

  • Crying
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Irritability
  • Pulling on their ears

Possible Symptoms:

  • Ear pain
  • Neck pain
  • Decreased hearing
  • Nasal congestion
  • Nasal discharge
  • Sore throat
  • Buzzing, ringing, or another noise in the ears

Severe Symptoms (for which you should contact your NYC doctor the same day)

  • Severe ear pain
  • Discharge from the ear - especially if it contains pus or blood

Possible Causes of Ear Infection

  • Allergies
  • Common cold
  • Overgrown or infected tonsils (adenoids)
  • Exposure to smoke
  • An infant being fed while lying on its back

Risk Factors for Ear Infection

  • Children from 6 months to 3 years old
  • Recent illness (including a sinus infection or a cold)
  • Using a pacifier
  • Attending daycare
  • History of allergies, sinusitis, or rhinitis
  • Exposure to smoke
  • When family members are prone to ear infections


Most ear infections go away on their own, which is why the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended a "wait and see" approach during the three days after a patient develops symptoms.  More complicated infections, or the presence of other risk factors in the patient’s history, may require immediate treatment with an antibiotic.

If your child experiences recurrent ear infections or otitis media with effusion (OME), your NY doctor may recommend a surgical procedure that removes fluid from the ear. This procedure may involve leaving tubes in the child’s ear to reduce the likelihood of future ear infections by facilitating drainage. This procedure is performed by an ear, nose, and throat doctor (ENT dr).


If you think you or your child may be experiencing an ear infection, our allergists & associates at the NY Allergy & Sinus Centers are here to help. Our specialists can find relief for your asthma, nasal & sinus problems, ear, nose, and throat (ENT) symptoms, respiratory and food allergies, & skin conditions.  We have access to the latest testing and treatments, and we offer convenient allergy & asthma clinics throughout the NYC metropolitan area: Midtown, UWS, Chelsea, Murray Hill, and Queens.  We see adult and pediatric patients (children) from all around New York City, including Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island, and the Bronx.  Call NY Allergy and Sinus Centers at 212-686-4448 for more information.


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