Skip to Content

Serous Otitis Media


Serous otitis media is fluid trapped behind your tympanic membrane (eardrum), without an ear infection. Your eardrum is in your middle ear. Serous otitis media is also called otitis media with effusion. You may have fluid in your ear for months, but it usually goes away on its own. The fluid may be in one or both ears. The fluid may cause muffled sounds, and you may feel like your ears are full. Serous otitis media may be caused by an upper respiratory infection or allergies. It is most common in the fall and early spring.

Ear Anatomy


Return to the emergency department if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You have a sudden loss of hearing in your affected ear.
  • You develop a severe headache and stiff neck.
  • You have a seizure.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have fluid draining from your ear.
  • You have new symptoms.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Your ears will need to be checked regularly. You may need to see a specialist. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Ā© Copyright IBM Corporation 2018 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotesĀ® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Serous Otitis Media (Aftercare Instructions)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex

Symptom checker