Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"What causes fluid to form on one's eardrum?"
Why would fluid form on the eardrum? I haven't seen a doctor about this yet, but I can feel that the fluid is there, because I hear it slosh around when I move my head in certain ways. How can I get it out?
Fluid in the eardrum is a condition that requires medical attention. Hearing can be affected if not treated in a timely manner. I strongly recommend you see your doctor. Fluid in the eardrum is medically known as a middle ear effusion. This most often is caused by otitis media with effusion--that is to say this is most often a form of infection. Children often get this, with an infection that requires treatment. Occasionally, an infection itself is not the problem, but damage to the tube that drains the middle ear. This is known as Eustachian Tube Dysfunction. This can occur as a result of an infection and rarely just happen. Also a problem in the throat/nose can sometimes block the end of the eustachian tube and cause the problem. Treatment of the infection is required in most cases. Occasionally drainage of the fluid by an Ear Nose Throat Doctor can be done. This can be done through insertion of tympanostomy tubes (tubes that drain the ear drum). That being said it may not be the middle ear (or ear drum) that has the fluid. The auditory canal or external ear can also be affected by infections, skin conditions or fluid build up that results in similar symptoms. I strongly recommend that you see your primary doctor. If required, an Ear Nose Throat doctor may be helpful as well.
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