Suppurative vs serous otitis media?

Ah, ears! Aren’t they cute? They’re like little antennas you have on your head. But sometimes those cute little things can cause big problems. This is where suppurative and serous otitis media come in. In this article, we’ll take a look at what these conditions are, their symptoms, causes and treatments.

What is Otisis Media?

Before diving deep into the two types of ear infections that we will be discussing today – suppurative and serous otitis media – let’s first talk about otitis media as a concept.

Otitis media refers to an inflammation of the middle ear which often results from an infection caused by bacteria or viruses. The condition typically occurs after fluid builds up behind the eardrum.

When left untreated for long periods, it is not uncommon for this pressure buildup to lead to more dire consequences such as hearing loss or even brain damage due to complications in surrounding parts such as mastoid bone cells being infected.

Now that we have covered some basics of otitis media let us dive into our comparative research!

Suppurative Otitis Media: When Pus Meets Ear Drums

Suppurative otitis media (SOM) also known commonly referred to by medical professionals as purulent otitsi, takes its name ‘suppurativa’ from its key symptom- pus drainage through the ear canal- Yuck!!!

Caused By Bacteria

Staphylococcus aureus,’ ‘Haemophilus influenzae,” Streptococcus pneumonia, and’‘ Moraxella catarrhalis are common bacterial agents responsible.’

This type of infectious disease affects primarily children but adults with compromised immune functions may also suffer from it too. So if you ever filter out through your friend list trying to decide who to throw under a bus first in a zombie apocalypse, keep these ones handy!

Symptoms Include

  • Ear pain
  • Pressure on the ear
  • Fever
  • Pus drainage from ears

SOM is pretty serious and can easily lead to permanent hearing loss if left untreated for long periods. So it’s crucial not to be lazy and just hope it clears up itself as that could land you in some hot water or rather fluid!

Treatment Options

Thankfully, this infection can easily be treated/ remedied with antibiotic therapy by visiting your general practitioner whom will most likely prescribe antibiotics (intravenously or orally) depending on the severity of infection.

But sometimes (rarely though!), when complications are already persistent then surgery called myringotomy would have to step in! Myringotomy (Talk about an explosion)
is a procedure where small incisions are made into your eardrum to drain out un-passed pus.

Serous Otitis Media: The One With Watery Discharge

Serous otitis media(SOM), otherwise known as Glue ear( What do they even mean?), occurs when there’s stale sticky liquid behind the eardrum which hampers hearing abilities.

Usually Caused By Cold Viruses

SOM typically develops due adenovirus, parainfluenza or rhinoviruses commonly found causing common cold.

The condition affects mainly kids aged between 6 months to four years but adults aren’t necessarily safe too! Grown-ups with allergies, sinus infections or poor Eustachian tube functionality may also experience serous otitis media at one point or another.

Its Signs And Sypmptoms:

Its symptoms include fluctuating hearing difficulty, unpleasant sounds in amplified tone, sense of pressure around ears and/or mild dizziness .

If left untreated over longer periods, the glue-like liquid behind the eardrum might clog your Eustachian tube which can further complicate things when it comes to relieving yourself during air travel or upon any atmospheric pressure change.

However, there’s no need for panic because unlike SOM we looked at earlier on this is a mild condition that’s treatable with basic medications.

Treatment Options

Treatment may include:
– OTC decongestants and antihistamines
– Antibiotics (For severe cases )

So What Makes S.O.M And S.S.M Different?

Given their similarity in symptoms like earache, hearing impairments plus also presence of fluid buildup respectively; one might wonder what traps they lie differently whilst under examination by a physician ?

But don’t worry! Here are some variations between Serous and Suppurative otitis media you did not know :

Suppurative Otis Media Serous Otis Media
Pus discharge from ear Watery /Glue-like substance found in accumulation behind Eardrum
Principally caused by bacteria Caused majorly due to cold viruses
Requires antibiotics/surgcial treatment Mostly cured using O-T prescriptions
Higher Severity akin to adult illnesses Generally Mild

Although generally speaking antibiotic therapy should only be administered after seeking professional counsel.


As much as we tend sometimes not pay attention to these ‘little antennas’ and ignore signs showing up around them as nothing serious, they’re highly vital appendages leading us towards simple tasks such as interacting/ socializing within our environment. It’s important therefore to endure regular medical checkups i.e ENT specialist visits aside going ahead taking premonitory measures against risks posed.
With all that said, each type of otitis media requires different yet timely solutions with Serous Otitis media being a less severe condition with medical protocols centred around symptomatic relief and Suppurative Otitise Media requiring more immediate medical attention including emergency surgical procedures. Stay safe, communicate better!

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