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Middle Ear Fluid


When the Eustachian tube doesn't operate correctly, new air is unable to reach the middle ear. The causes for Eustachian tube dysfunction are many and include inherited anatomical problems or any process that causes swelling or injury to the Eustachian tube.

When new air is unable to enter the Eustachian tube, the body will absorb the remaining air in the middle ear creating a vacuum (negative pressure). This is the same type of pressure that keeps a lid on a Mason Jar. When this pressure is mild, the body senses this as stuffiness or pressure in the ear. However, when the negative pressure is severe the body senses this as pain. If the negative pressure remains for an extended period of time then the body will replace the vacuum with fluid.

The fluid behind the eardrum can lead to problems with hearing loss and ear infection ( otitis ). Treatment for middle ear fluid consists of ways to get the air pressure behind the eardrum equal to pressure outside the eardrum. These treatments include inflation of the middle ear via the Eustachian tube or if unsuccessful through the eardrum (see placement of pressure equalization tubes)

Fluid and bubles can be seen through the semitransparent drum.