top of page



Ear Infections

Otitis refers to an infection of the ear. There are two types: Otitis externa (outer ear infection) and otitis media (middle ear infection).

Otitis Externa

Is an infection in the outer ear canal. Another name for this infection is "swimmer's ear", as it can be associated with exposure to water. The symptoms include redness and swelling of the skin in the ear canal, significant pain of the ear canal and drainage. Treatment for this infection includes antibiotic or antifungal eardrops and possibly oral (by mouth) antibiotics. Preventive treatments can include rinsing the ears with water and white vinegar. Ready-made eardrops for this purpose are also sold at various pharmacies, although these may contain alcohol that can cause further irritation.

Otitis Media

Is also known as a middle ear infection (an infection in the space behind the ear drum). For children, otitis media is one of the most common infections. More than 90% of all children will have at least one infection by age 2. Forms include recurrent acute infections and long-lasting chronic infections, both of which are treatable.

Ear infections can be caused by bacteria or viruses. Risk factors include day care and smoking in the home. Allergies may contribute to ear disease but are not usually the direct cause of infections.

Ear infections, for some children, are very painful. Commonly associated symptoms include pulling on the ears, increased irritability or behavioral changes, awakening at night, fever, decreased appetite, not wanting to lie flat, or a loss of balance. You should contact your physician if your child is experiencing ear pain or if you suspect an infection. Some children have little or no discomfort, and ear infections in these children may be picked up only upon a physician visit or as part of an examination for another complaint.


A mastoidectomy is the surgical removal of an infected portion of the mastoid bone (the prominent bone behind the ear) when medical treatment is not effective. The need for this surgery is relatively rare today due to the use of antibiotics.

Mastoidectomy is performed to remove infected air cells within the mastoid bone caused by mastoiditis, ear infections, or cholesteatoma (an inflammatory disease of the middle ear). The air cells are open spaces containing air that are located throughout the mastoid bone. They are connected to a cavity in the upper part of the bone which is connected to the middle ear. Infections in the middle ear can therefore spread through the mastoid bone, making surgery necessary if antibiotics do not work. A mastoidectomy may also be performed to repair paralyzed facial nerves.


Tympanoplasty is reconstructive surgery for torn tympanic membranes (eardrums) or ossicles (middle ear bones). Eardrum tears may result from chronic infection or, less commonly, from trauma to the eardrum. Tympanoplasty can also help to restore hearing, treat certain types of deafness, and prevent middle ear infections.

Tympanoplasty can be performed through the ear canal or through an incision behind the ear. Tympanic membrane grafting may be required, in which a graft is taken from tissue under the skin around the ear to reconstruct the eardrum. The procedure is performed on an outpatient basis under local or general anesthetic.


Middle ear infections (otitis media) are extremely common in young children, often causing ear pain, nasal congestion, fever, irritability and other troubling symptoms. Some children develop chronic ear infections and may require stronger treatment in order to effectively relieve symptoms and clear the infection. Ear tubes can be used to drain fluid from the ears and allow ventilation into the middle ear.

Ear tube insertion surgery, known as a myringotomy, involves a tiny incision in the eardrum and the insertion of a tiny tube, called a tympanostomy tube. Any fluid in the ear is removed and the tube is then inserted, where is will remain for six to 18 months before falling out on its own or being surgically removed.

This surgery is performed on an outpatient basis and takes only 10 to 15 minutes. Most children can return to school and other activities the next day. In most cases, there is no visible scarring from this procedure.

bottom of page