Fluid in the Ear

Fluid in the ear is caused by a blockage that impedes drainage from the middle ear space. In addition to ear infections, the common cold and allergies can cause fluid buildup in the ear. There are also instances in which fluid in the ear is related to physical development, which is why it is more common in children.

Symptoms of fluid in the ear include:

  • Hearing loss
  • Vertigo or balance problems
  • Full feeling in the ears

Unfortunately, when fluid builds up in the ears of small children, there might be no symptoms present. It is not until speech is delayed that fluid buildup is discovered.

Diagnosing fluid in the ear includes an examination of the ear with an otoscope. In some cases, a simple and painless procedure called tympanogram may be performed to confirm the presence or absence of clear fluid in the ear, which can sometimes be difficult to see.

Treatment for fluid in the ears varies based on the cause and can sometimes be treated with antibiotics or steroid nasal sprays. Doctors often take a wait-and-see approach with children, but when fluid buildup begins to interfere with development, they can surgically place tubes in the ear to help with drainage.