More prevalent in young children, serous otitis media (tympanic effusion) is usually linked to the presence of a common cold. To avoid secondary damage, if you suspect your child has an ear effusion, you should consult a doctor. Read about the symptoms, treatment, duration and complications that may arise if effusion of the ear is left untreated.
Fluid behind the eardrum occurs more frequently in childhood than adulthood. Reduced hearing (conductive hearing loss) is typical of fluid in the ear and, in most cases, will occur in both ears.
Additionally, serous otitis media in adults may also give rise to the following symptoms:
However, both reduced hearing and/or a feeling of pressure in the ear may also be indicative of tubal catarrh.
The causes of fluid behind the eardrum can vary greatly. Often, middle ear fluid occurs as a side effect of a cold. Because a cold disturbs the ventilation of the ear, mucus is produced in greater quantities. Within the ear, ventilation is provided by the Eustachian tube; however, in younger children, it is not yet fully functional, so ventilation is restricted. As the Eustachian tube increases in function with age; the older a child is, the better the ventilation and, hence, the incidence of tympanic effusion lessens.
Additional causes are strong fluctuations in air pressure: for example, during take-off and landing in an airplane.
As with all ear complaints, at the first symptoms of a tympanic effusion, it is recommended you consult an ENT specialist. They will perform a thorough examination with an otoscope, checking the ear for changes and checking for fluid behind the eardrum. Should the eardrum be scarred from previous middle ear infections, fluid in the ears will not be visible but can only be detected by tympanometry. Tympanometry uses a measuring device to examine the eardrum and middle ear for disturbed pressure fluctuations, as well as the accumulation of middle ear fluid.
If fluid is present, the eardrum is often reddened and if the patient is in the chronic stage, the eardrum may be thickened and pinker in colour. Likewise, bloody, bluish, shimmering secretions are also symptomatic of chronic serous otitis media, whilst healthy secretions are amber in colour. In addition to the tympanogram, a tone audiogram, a detailed graphical representation of hearing in a hearing curve, is often performed to diagnose conductive hearing loss if disease is present. Similarly, a mirror examination of the pharynx, sinuses, and nasal cavity can provide information about an existing tympanic effusion.
There are several options to treat a tympanic effusion:
The symptoms of a tympanic effusion can vary in severity. If they are mild or temporary, there are many home remedies for fluid behind the eardrum available; likewise, you can also seek homeopathic treatment. To follow, some simple, home-remedies helpful for decongesting the sinuses:
Should you prefer to treat a tympanic effusion naturally, then homeopathic treatment methods may be an option. However, before proceeding, you should seek the advice of your ENT specialist to verify whether additional medical therapy is also recommended. In homeopathic therapy there is no one, specific treatment for fluid behind the eardrum. To this end, before using homeopathic remedies, you should always address those symptoms physically present at the time. These can best be assessed by an experienced therapist. When treating tympanic effusion with homeopathic remedies, deep potencies, such as D6 to D12, are generally preferable. Whilst some remedies are more commonly used than others, homeopathic treatment for a tympanic effusion cannot be generalized to all sufferers.
Available as both drops or tablets, these remedies can be purchased in pharmacies. Particularly well suited for children, they should be dissolved slowly under the tongue. For very young children, the same remedies can be dissolved in a little water and then dripped into the mouth.