The middle ear is the space behind the eardrum that is usually filled with air. When a child has middle ear fluid (otitis media with effusion), it means that a watery or mucus-like fluid has collected in the middle ear. Otitis media means middle ear inflammation, and effusion means fluid.

Middle ear fluid is not the same as an ear infection. An ear infection occurs when middle ear fluid is infected with viruses, bacteria, or both, often during a cold. Children with middle ear fluid have no signs or symptoms of infection. Most children don't have fever or severe pain, but may have mild discomfort or trouble hearing. About 90% of children get middle ear fluid at some time before age 5.

The following is information from the American Academy of Pediatrics about the causes, symptoms, risk reduction, testing, and treatments for middle ear fluid, as well as how middle...

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