What are the causes and risks of the disease? Myringitis is generally caused by an infection with a bacteria or virus. The infection may start in the eardrum, or it may start in the outer or middle ear and then spread to the eardrum.
What can be done to prevent the disease? General measures taken to keep illnesses from spreading may help, such as avoiding:
people who are ill
crowded living conditions
Other measures include:
washing hands often
pneumonia vaccine for children, which may help prevent infections that cause myringitis
keeping the ear canal dry to reduce the risk of an infection of the outer ear, known as swimmer's ear
How is the disease diagnosed? Myringitis is diagnosed based upon a person's symptoms and a physical examination by a doctor. The examination reveals a very inflamed eardrum.
What are the long-term effects of the disease? Most cases of myringitis go away without any long-term effects. In some cases, though, there may be scarring of the eardrum that could affect hearing. Or the eardrum may tear, or perforate. Occasionally, surgery is needed to repair this.
What are the risks to others? Some causes of myringitis are contagious and can be passed to others.
What are the treatments for the disease? Treatment of infectious myringitis may include:
antibiotics for acute otitis media, which is an infection of the middle ear, or for myringitis caused by bacteria
antibiotics together with steroid ear drops for an infection of the ear canal, such as swimmer's ear
stronger analgesics and broad-spectrum antibiotics for severe cases of myringitis
What are the side effects of the treatments? Antibiotics and other medications may have side effects, such as allergic reactions and stomach upset.
What happens after treatment for the disease? In most cases, the eardrum returns to normal after successful treatment.
How is the disease monitored? Continuing or worsening pain indicates that the inflammation has not been stopped. If the pain does not resolve over a brief time, medical attention is needed. Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the doctor.
Author: Mark Loury, MD Reviewer: HealthAnswers Australia Medical Review Panel Editor: Dr David Taylor, Chief Medical Officer HealthAnswers Australia Last Updated: 1/10/2001 Contributors Potential conflict of interest information for reviewers available on request
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