Children's Hospital Colorado

Chronic Otitis Media

What is chronic otitis media?

Chronic otitis media is a group of symptoms that result from long-term damage to the middle ear. These symptoms are typically caused by recurring ear infections or problems with the eustachian tube, and often both. The eustachian tube connects the middle ear to the upper throat and back of the nasal cavity.

What causes chronic otitis media in kids?

The primary causes of chronic otitis media include:

  • Middle ear infections and/or blockage of the eustachian tube, which are the most common causes
  • Blast injuries, such as loud noises damaging the inner ear, or other injuries to the ear
  • Flare ups after infections of the nose and throat, colds or water entering the middle ear

Who gets chronic otitis media?

Anyone can get chronic otitis media; however, certain childhood syndromes and craniofacial anomalies, such as cleft palate, increase the risk for chronic otitis media. Learn more about craniofacial anomalies we treat.

In general, children are more likely to get chronic otitis media due to the anatomy of their eustachian tube, their less mature immune system and frequent exposure to germs that can cause inflammation in and around their eustachian tube.

Contact the Ear, Nose, and Throat department

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Get to know our pediatric experts.

Norman Friedman, MD

Norman Friedman, MD

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Scott Cypers, PhD, MS

Scott Cypers, PhD, MS

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