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Massachusetts Eye and Ear
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Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery

Ear Infections

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Overview

An ear infection occurs when the inner, middle or outer ear become inflamed, often with infection.

Chronic ear infections are those that do not heal. Often, they are caused by eustachian tube dysfunction (blockage of air to the middle ear) that leads to chronic negative pressure and fluid sequestration, changes in the eardrum and sometimes the development of a cholesteatoma (skin cyst).

5Common Symptoms

  • Hearing loss
  • Ear blockage
  • Drainage from the ear
  • Ear pain
  • Trouble equalizing pressure on an airplane

Diagnosis and Treatment

On examination, abnormalities of the eardrum can be identified, such as pockets in the eardrum or holes. Sometimes erosion or destruction of the ossicles (bones necessary for hearing) is seen.

Regular ear exams and hearing tests are typically done to monitor any progression and determine the best course of action.

Treatment includes medical therapies, tympanostomy tube placement or surgery for hearing loss, eardrum or ossicular (hearing bone) abnormalities or cholesteatoma development.

Meet Our Team

Our Hearing and Balanceteam is comprised of some of the world’s finest ear surgeons, skull base surgeons, balance disorder specialists and audiologists.


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