What is this article about?
Otitis media is an umbrella term encompassing all types of inflammation and infection of the middle ear, which is the air-filled, membrane-lined cavity located behind the eardrum. People of all ages can be affected by otitis media, but it is most common among young children, especially those between 6 and 18 months of age. It is estimated that about 75% of children will have experienced at least one episode of otitis media by the time they start school. In most cases, otitis media arises from a viral or bacterial infection that initially presents as a cold. The infection may then spread to the middle ear through the eustachian tube, causing swelling and a build-up of fluid. As this places pressure on the eardrum, there is a risk that the eardrum will perforate (burst).