If middle ear infections happen often enough, placement of tubes are often helpful. Why would placing a tube help in these situations? Really, tube placement is a "detour" whereby the natural eustachian tube is bypassed so that ventilation occurs through the ear canal instead of the nose. Furthermore, a tube allows for ear popping automatically. Another way of thinking about a tube is a hole in a balloon. When there is a hole in a balloon, no pressure can build up as it would automatically escape out the hole. Read about the different types of tubes here .
This topic will address the etiology, diagnosis, and treatment of AOM in adults. Issues related to AOM in children are discussed separately (see "Acute otitis media in children: Diagnosis" and "Acute otitis media in children: Epidemiology, microbiology, clinical manifestations, and complications" and "Acute otitis media in children: Treatment" and "Otitis media with effusion (serous otitis media) in children: Clinical features and diagnosis" and "Otitis media with effusion (serous otitis media) in children: Management" ) Issues related to chronic otitis media (COM) in adults are also discussed separately. (See "Chronic otitis media, cholesteatoma, and mastoiditis in adults" .)