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Infectious Myringitis

(Bullous Myringitis)

by Richard T. Miyamoto, MD, MS

Infectious myringitis is infection of the eardrum by a virus or bacteria.

Myringitis is caused by a variety of viruses and bacteria. The bacteria Mycoplasma is a common cause. The eardrum becomes inflamed, and small, fluid-filled blisters (vesicles) form on its surface. Blisters may also be present in otitis media; however, in myringitis, there is no pus or fluid in the middle ear.

Pain begins suddenly and lasts for 24 to 48 hours. There may be some hearing loss.

Doctors diagnose myringitis by looking at the eardrum with an otoscope. Because it is difficult to tell whether the infection is viral or bacterial, most people are treated with antibiotics and analgesics. A doctor may need to rupture the vesicles with a small blade to relieve the pain.