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serous otitis media
Serous otitis (or otitis media with effusion) is the condition in which thick fluid fills the middle ear cavity, often after the acute phase of otitis media has resolved. Because the fluid is thick, it tends to not drain or be absorbed out of the middle ear cavity. By preventing proper motion of the eardrum, it often causes measurable hearing impairment (which is temporary and not permanent). It is feared that this hearing impairment can interfere with proper speech and cognitive development (intelligence) in young children, and for this reason various methods are used to attempt to get rid of the fluid and restore normal hearing. Among these are antibiotics (often of little help, since the fluid may already be free of infection), decongestants (of no proven value), oral or intranasal steroids, and the surgical insertion of plastic or metal ventilation tubes in the eardrums.