Fluid In the Ear, causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

Fluid in ear is also called serous otitis media or otitis media effusion in which accumulation of fluid behind the eardrum occurs. In this condition, auditory tube impairs because it allows fluid to drain from the ear into the back of the throat. If the tube becomes clogged, then fluid will come in the middle ear space, and this called “effusion.”

Moreover, the common cold and allergies can often lead to fluid in the ear if inflammation or mucous prevents the auditory tube. Mostly ear infection or serous otitis media clear up on their own; however, some treatment or preventive measures are recommended to clear the infections. So, let’s talk about all the possible causes, symptoms, and treatment of fluid in the ear.

Causes of Fluid in the Ear

The cause of ear infection is the presence of bacteria or viruses in the middle ear, and then it leads to another infection or illness such as cold, flu, or allergy. These allergies cause congestion and swelling of the nasal passages, Eustachian tubes, and throat.

  1. Eustachian tubes are important for our ears, which are a pair of narrow tubes. It runs from each middle ear to high in the back of the throat and end of the tubes open and close to regulate air pressure, Refresh air in the ear and Drain secretions from the middle ear. When this tube gets swell, it blocks, which causes fluids to build up in the middle ear.
  1. In some other causes, adenoids are included in which two small pads of tissues are involved. Adenoids are important for us that play a role in immune system activity. Sometimes eustachian tube also blocks due to swelling of the adenoids. Due to swelling and irritation of adenoids, ear infection occurs in children because they have large adenoids as compared to adults.
  2. Otitis media is the common cause of discharge that occurs without bacteria or viruses—the middle ear is located behind the eardrum in which three bones are called ossicles. So, the infection in the middle ear causes fluid to build up behind the eardrum. If this infection becomes more severe, then the risk of perforation of the eardrum increases.
  3. The trauma of the ear is known as the discharge of the ear that happens while cleaning your ear with a cotton swab when you push it too deep. Acoustic trauma is also another cause of fluid in the ear infection that occurs due to extremely loud noises.
  4. Enlarged sinus tissues, tonsils also another cause of the ear infection.
  5. vIt also happens due to exposure to chemical irritants, especially cigarette smoke.
  6. Malignant otitis externa is a complication of the swimmer’s ear that causes damage to cartilage’s bones in the base of the skull.
  7. Skull fracture is another cause of ear infection in which any skull bone breaks.


Symptoms of fluid in the ear are varied because, in small children, most symptoms remain unnoticed by the caretakers. In general symptoms of an ear infection may include

  • Ear pain
  • Plugging up the feeling of ear
  • Unable to pop the ears
  • Tinnitus or ringing in the ears
  • Hearing loss
  • The feeling of fullness in the ears
  • Loss of vertigo
  • Behavior problems
  • Ear drainage
  • Ear barotrauma
  • Earache


Fluid in the ear is asymptomatic and remain undiagnosed often. So, if you feel any kind of symptoms, then must take your children to pediatrician and otolaryngologist. Otomicroscope is another method to diagnose fluid in the ear. An otoscope is very simple and pulling back the ear and inserting the tip of the otoscope into the ear. It allows the doctor to visualize the eardrum. Moreover, tympanometry is another test done to confirm the ear infection. An instrument speculum is used for this test, and it is placed in the outer portion of the ear canal.


Treatment is not necessary however it depends on the several factors such as

  • If fluid remains present for six months, a hearing test is recommended.
  • If fluid still presents after 12 weeks, then a hearing test must be performed. This test will show significant hearing loss, and then your doctor will give you antibiotics or placing tubes in the ears.
  • The surgical treatment of ear tubes is recommended if fluid in the ear remains after 4 to 6 months.
  • Sometimes, adenoids are removed if they cause blockage of the eustachian tube.

Antibiotics are not given in every ear infection; however, antihistamines are useful to prevent chronic sinusitis because it has drainage impact of your auditory tube. Basically, antihistamines are not given for ear infection treatment. Some children who suffer from developmental delays also require treatment earlier. But in some cases, don’t need any treatment; the doctor just manages their symptoms and waiting for the fluid to clear on its own.


  1. Must teach your children to wash their hands frequently and do not share eating and drinking utensils. Keep your child at home from school when they ill.
  2. Avoid secondhand smoke: avoid smoking and stay in smoke-free environments.
  3. Breastfeeding provides protection to infants from ear infections because antibodies are found in mother’s milk.
  4. You should try holding your infant in an upright position rather than letting them drink lying down.
  5. To avoid rupturing your eardrum, you must keep out foreign objects.
  6. Ask to doctor for vaccinations. Seasonal flu shots, pneumococcal, and some other bacterial vaccines prevent ear infections.

Final Thoughts

Fluid in ear is a common problem, particularly in children. Some cases could be resolved without treatment; however, some demand a proper treatment plan. If the above-mentioned symptoms remain for more than six weeks, then you must consult your doctor. The prolonged and untreated ear infection can decrease your quality of life and performance. Moreover, some prevention cares are also mentioned there so that you could save yourself from any kind of infection as well as could teach your children properly.




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