As opposed to acute viral ear infections, otitis media with effusion lasts over a period of time, becoming chronic. This is due to the fact that fluid does not drain from the middle ear after the infection passes. Fluid remaining in the middle ear makes recurring infections more likely and may lead to damage or deformation of the eardrum and bones in the middle ear. Surgery may be necessary to drain the fluid.
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Honor Society of Nursing (STTI) answered
Otitis media with effusion (OME) is a condition where inflammation of the tissues in the middle ear space (behind the ear drum) has caused an escape of fluid into this space. Many factors such as viruses, bacteria, allergies, trauma (pressure from a flight), can cause this inflammation resulting in an effusion.