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Merck Manual

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(Bullous Myringitis)


Richard T. Miyamoto

, MD, MS, Indiana University School of Medicine

Last full review/revision Jun 2020| Content last modified Jun 2020
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Myringitis is a bacterial or viral infection of the eardrum.

Myringitis is a form of acute otitis media and is caused by a variety of viruses and bacteria. The bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae and Mycoplasma are common causes.

The eardrum becomes inflamed, and small, fluid-filled blisters (vesicles) form on its surface. Although vesicles may also be present in otitis media, myringitis does not cause pus or fluid in the middle ear. Pain begins suddenly and lasts for 24 to 48 hours. There may be some hearing loss and fever.

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 pain relievers (analgesics). Analgesics may be given by mouth or as ear drops. A doctor may need to rupture the vesicles with a small blade to relieve the pain.

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