If no complications such as bacterial inflammation of the mastoid process (mastoiditis) or chronic otitis media occur, the otitis media heals with normal hearing. Special forms of acute otitis mediaScarlachotitis (scarlet fever) or measles (measles) are caused by transmission of the bacteria into the ear via the bloodstream and often lead to a cell-destroying (necrotising) inflammation of the mucous membrane and inflammatory melting of the eardrum. The spread of the inflammation of the middle ear to the mastoid process cells and to the inner ear are also possible complications of inflammation of the middle ear (otitis media).
Defects of the eardrum remain, which increase the risk of chronic inflammation of the middle ear. Infant otitis occurs in newborns who still have a short and wide tube. The path of an inflammation from the nasopharynx to the middle ear is short due to this anatomical condition.
The diseased children grasp the ear compulsively (ear compulsion) and have a reddened eardrum. An acute inflammation of the middle ear is in most cases a very painful disease. Patients suffering from severe ear pain should not board an airplane.
It does not matter whether the planned flight is a long distance or only a short distance. Flying is not recommended for patients with acute middle ear infection. Specialists in ear, nose and throat medicine point out that the ventilation of the ear, which is restricted by inflammatory processes, can become problematic during flying.
Since an acute inflammation of the middle ear can lead to the almost complete closure of the connection between the ear and throat, air and inflammatory gases are trapped in the middle ear. This air is subject to the lower air pressure at high altitudes (i.e. during flying) and exerts enormous pressure on the eardrum. In this context, patients who fly despite acute middle ear inflammation can experience severe pain and pronounced balance problems.
In the worst case, the pressure acting on the eardrum can become so high that the affected eardrum ruptures. According to medical specialists, even pressure equalisation during flight is not sufficient to adequately prevent this risk. Doctors therefore point out that patients suffering from an acute middle ear infection should rather stay on the ground and cancel planned flights.
However, in cases where flying is absolutely unavoidable, good preparation can help to alleviate possible discomfort. Before and during flying, decongestant nose drops should be used. This may create a narrow passage between the middle ear and throat.
In addition, pressure equalisation during flying can be facilitated by using earplugs and/or chewing gum. Patients who board a plane despite acute middle ear infection should always have painkillers (preferably ibuprofen) at hand. Similar topics that might interest you: Is it okay to fly with a cold?
middle ear infection can also develop during pregnancy. However, as the intake of medicines during pregnancy is enormously restricted, it is important to weigh up carefully which medicine is best suited before starting suitable treatment. Symptomatically, an acute inflammation of the middle ear, which occurs during pregnancy, can be treated with special nasal sprays.