Liquid drains from behind the ear drum after an infection has caused the collection of fluid, but nasal steroids can help to clear the fluid more effectively. Find out how to drain liquid from behind the ear drum with information from a practicing pediatrician in this free video on ear problems.
Hi, I'm Dr. David Hill and today we're going to be talking about how to drain fluid or liquid from behind the eardrum. First of all, we kind of have to know what's going on inside the ear and for that, I have this model. Now there's the part of the ear you can see, it's the external auditory canal. And this is not usually where fluid is collected in the case of an ear infection. The external auditory canal ends right here at the tympanic membrane or eardrum. That seals off what's called the middle ear, where the little bones are that carry sounds to the inner ear or cochlea. This space is sealed off inside the skull, but it does communicate via the Eustachian tube which is a real thin little tube that ends in the nose. The Eustachian tube is responsible for carrying fluid and air out of the ear or to bring air in if that's what's needed to equalize pressure. Now when a child gets a cold or allergies or sinusitis, the tube may close off and allow fluid to collect behind the eardrum. Now, if that fluid isn't infected, it's usually not really a big deal. When the allergies are treated or the cold goes away, it tends to drain out on its own. Chronic fluid collections may lead to some hearing loss and, when that happens, we'll usually try allergy treatments like nasal steroids, a very short term use of decongestants] spray or antihistamines to try to clear that up. The fact is, however, that studies have not shown that both of the methods make a big difference. If anything helps, it's probably the nasal steroids. However, studies of antihistamines and decongestants have been very disappointing in terms of getting this fluid out. If the fluid is causing a really chronic, long-term problem with hearing loss, some ear, nose and throat surgeons will insert a tube called a pressure equalizing tube or tympanostomy tube in the eardrum itself to allow fluid to drain out into the ear canal. However, that's usually after other modalities of treatment have failed. The second time a tube needs to be inserted, he or she may also chose to take out the adenoids which may be blocking drainage through the Eustachian tube. There's two glands that occur sort of in the back of the airway between the mouth and the nose. Otherwise, know that fluid that collects in here is almost always going to fix itself, it may take two or three weeks to go away, but it almost always does go away in healthy children. So, talking about getting fluid out of the middle ear, I'm Dr. David Hill.