Duration of an acute otitis media

Synonyms in a broader sense

Medical: otitis media

acute otitis media, hemorrhagic otitis media, myringitis bullosa

English: acute otitis media


Acute otitis media is a very common disease that can occur at any age, but is preferred in small children. Statistically, more than fifty percent of all infants have an acute otitis media within the first year of life.

Most acute otitis media is caused by pathogens that rise from the throat via the so-called tube (a type of ventilation tunnel for the middle ear) into the middle ear. The inflammation is mainly caused by bacteria, such as Staphylococci or Streptococci. But also Viruses occur very frequently as pathogens and often form the basis for a subsequent bacterial infection.

Often otitis media develop after a previous infection of the upper respiratory tract.

Gradient forms

There are various forms of acute otitis media. So there is mild Course of the so-called Catarrhal otitis mediathat usually viral is conditional and only with mild general symptoms, such as light Feeling of pressure and moderate Earache goes hand in hand. Fever occurs only rarely in the mild form of acute otitis media. This form of otitis media usually goes away on its own within a few days and does not require antibiotic therapy.

As Purulent otitis media On the other hand, the more severe form can last much longer and, above all, cause more severe symptoms. An acute start with severe earache and fever is characteristic here. Furthermore, significant Disorders of the Hearing ability enter. An often strong feeling of illness usually decreases after the first four days from. This is also possible with a spontaneous one Tearing of the eardrum (perforation), which is often linked by purulent discharge accompanied by the ear. A complete healing of the severe otitis media with disappearance of the symptoms can take up to three weeks need. Usually there is complete restoration of hearing. A ruptured ear drum usually heals within 2 weeks after the inflammation subsides again on its own.

General duration of acute otitis media

Acute otitis media can result from one day up to 3 weeks last. Any otitis media that lasts longer than 3 weeks is counted as a chronic otitis media. An acute otitis media, in technical jargon as Acute otitis media known, is the general term for all inflammatory diseases in the area of ​​the middle ear, which is characterized by a rapid onset and a short duration. Due to their multiple causes and dependence on various factors, the duration of the illnesses is also very high variable. A uncomplicated otitis media takes average one week.

However, this can take significantly longer in the case of complications or those affected by immunocompromise. On the other hand, especially in children, an uncomplicated otitis media can be completely healed after one to two days. When the otitis media more than 6 times a year occurs, one speaks of a recurring otitis media, a so-called recurrent otitis media acute.

Duration of acute otitis media in the baby

How long an acute one Otitis media in a baby depends on various factors. That is an important aspect immune system of the baby. When the baby is born, it is up to a maximum of 9 months through the colloquial "Nest protection“Protected and must first build his own immune system. From 2-3 months of age, the "nest protection" is already in decline, while the baby's own immune system slowly develops. The supplied “nest protection” does not protect against all diseases, but only those that the mother has experienced herself or against which she has been vaccinated. But here too there are exceptions, so that the baby can still get certain diseases.

The otitis media in babies and children is mostly caused by Pneumococci and Haemophilus influenza triggered. If the mother was vaccinated against it during pregnancy, the baby probably got this protection. If this is not the case and the baby develops an otitis media, the immature immune system has to build up during the illness. Accordingly, an otitis media can take longer than compared to toddlers.

In addition, the otitis media mainly manifests itself in the form of general symptoms. The rule is that the younger the child, the stronger it is General complaints, instead of the local symptoms in the foreground. Some babies hold their ears because of an earache, but not all of them do. As a result, the immediate detection of an otitis media is often more difficult, the correct treatment is delayed and thus the duration of the otitis media is prolonged. If the otitis media is detected, only help with bacterial infections antibiotics. These can then accelerate healing. However, babies cannot tolerate all antibiotics. In addition, these are ineffective in the case of a viral infection, which occurs in about a quarter of the cases of otitis media.

More information can be found here: Otitis media in Baby

A good sign of otitis media in babies is a raised temperature and a fever. This is also a sign that the healing process is being accelerated in a certain way. The fever is a sign that the immune system is fighting against the pathogens. Since the baby can hardly resist the inflammation due to the immature immune system, the body's fever is the “remedy of choice”. The fever usually lasts a few days and is divided into three phases: fever rise, fever congestion and fever decrease. If the baby is given adequate support during these three phases, a fever can reduce the duration of an otitis media to a few days.

Duration of acute otitis media in young children

In contrast to the baby, the toddler no longer has "nest protection", but one own immune system, which is still under construction. Here, too, the duration of otitis media depends on various factors. The duration of an acute otitis media in a toddler may have a good immune system take less time than a baby. That means, it can partially after one single day to a few days be completely healed. In a toddler with a poor immune system, the otitis media can last longer compared to the baby who received good "nest protection" from their mother.

The duration of otitis media can also be slowed down by the toddler's urge to move if it is difficult to get to rest and “romps” around. It is necessary to heal the otitis media physical rest. A toddler may not always understand this. Some toddlers who feel sick with otitis media seek rest and sleep a lot. Other toddlers are more excited and unable to maintain physical rest well, which often delays the healing process. A vaccination against Pneumococci and Haemophilus influenza is possible from the 2nd month of life. A small child who has been vaccinated against these pathogens has a lower risk of developing otitis media.

Further information on the topic can be found here: Otitis media in toddlers

Duration with antibiotic therapy

In the case of an acute otitis media that was caused by bacteria and does not correspond to an uncomplicated otitis media, a Antibiotic therapy Shorten the duration of the illness by minimizing complications. After 2-3 days of antibiotic therapy, the Risk of infection is over. Nevertheless, the antibiotic must continue to be taken in order to avoid so-called resistance. Depending on the type of antibiotic, the intake usually takes between 5 and 7 days.

In addition, the affected person is no longer contagious, but that does not necessarily mean that he is healthy. In order to completely heal the otitis media, it is important that the sufferer continues sparesuntil he has completely recovered from the inflammation. With an otitis media that has not been treated with antibiotics, the risk of infection is mostly a little longer. The regeneration phase can also take a few days longer. However, the antibiotics work not with a viral infection. In this case, otitis media with and without antibiotics would likely take the same time. Treatment with antibiotics could, however, cause side effects and these could in turn delay the healing process. Whether an otitis media should be treated with or without antibiotics has to be weighed up and decided individually with the doctor.

Duration without antibiotic therapy

Depending on the cause, age, immune system and severity of the otitis media, this can be done without antibiotics be completely healed in a few days or last up to a couple of weeks. If an otitis media lasts longer than a few days, a doctor should be consulted. If you do not want to take antibiotics because it is not a bacterial inflammation or for personal reasons, then this should be done with persistent or recurring otitis media doctor be discussed.

Duration of hearing loss

An otitis media is usually accompanied by hearing loss. When the inflammation subsides, it often develops afterwards Timpani effusion. This can last for days and weeks beyond the inflammation. The tympanic effusion hinders them Sound transmission in the ear. As a result, those affected complain of muffled hearing and a feeling of pressure in the ear. This can be very uncomfortable for the person concerned, but in principle it is harmless.

No later than to after a few weeks the hearing loss will subside and there is usually no damage. It is different when bacteria from the middle ear get into the inner ear as part of otitis media. There they can damage the inner ear and a Inner ear hearing loss cause. The inner ear damage is not reversible. A distinction between the hearing loss caused by a tympanic effusion and the hearing loss caused by an inner ear damage is best done ENT doctor make. Therefore, if the hearing loss persists, 2-3 weeks after the otitis media, it should be examined by an ENT doctor.

If the inner ear is damaged, treatment must urgently be carried out to avoid serious damage. Usually a Eardrum incision, a so-called Paracentesis recommended to avoid permanent severe damage. Also in children with pronounced otitis media and those affected with weakened immune systems, an incision is recommended to prevent permanent hearing loss.

This article might also interest you: Hearing loss

Length of sick leave

Usually with an uncomplicated otitis media, one is One week's sick leave sufficient. If there is a fever, hearing loss, severe pain, or other discomfort and complications, further treatment and complications are in Extension of sick leave necessary. There is one, especially in the first few days Risk of contagion, even if Antibiotics be taken. It is therefore important that those affected stay away from kindergarten, school and work. But even when the risk of infection has passed, many of those affected are not yet completely healthy and are not yet able to take part in everyday kindergarten, school and working life. This should be discussed individually with the doctor.

Duration of pain

With an uncomplicated otitis media, the acute, severe earache usually subsides 1-3 days from. If you have a fever at the same time, it usually goes down after 3 days. In the context of the fever, general pain in the limbs can occur, as can the Falling fever usually regress. If in the context of otitis media one Timpani effusion Hearing loss and tenderness can last up to a few days 2-3 weeks stop.


If the acute otitis media has still not healed after three weeks, there is a risk of serious complications, such as the development of a Mastoiditis With Melting down of bones. In any case, a doctor must be consulted again.

In any form of acute otitis media it can lead to one effusion (so-called Timpani effusion), which affects the ability of the eardrum to vibrate and thus causes a reduction in hearing. The fluid in the middle ear as a result has to be slowly broken down and it can take up to several weeks for a hearing impairment caused by the effusion to disappear, even after the acute inflammatory phase has already passed.

If there are special circumstances, for example if you are still very much small children, one perforation of the eardrum, feverthat has a temperature of 38 degree's exceeds or a very pronounced clinical picture should promptly a Antibiotic therapy be initiated. Normally, however, one can wait to see whether the symptoms will improve within the next 1-2 days entry. If this is the case, it must be 3 to 4 weeks a medical follow-up examination will be carried out. However, if there is no improvement, a doctor must be consulted, unless this has already happened before. If you are given an antibiotic, the symptoms should subside within 48 hours improve. If this is not the case, a doctor must be consulted again here.

However, it should be noted that the otitis media has not yet completely subsided, even if the symptoms have disappeared after a few days (with or without the administration of an antibiotic). So one should continue to the affected ear save, which is why, for example, from Swimming pool visits in the following days is urgently not recommended, as exposure to the germs present in the water could rekindle the inflammation.

As a rule, however, acute otitis media has a harmless course. Around 80 percent of diseases heal by themselves without complications. With a timely reaction after the onset of symptoms and a clarification by a doctor, possible complications can be avoided and a quick and uncomplicated healing is very likely to occur.