Fluid in the ears is due to an inflammatory response or congestion in the Eustachian tube, which normally empties fluid from the ears to the rear of the throat. The condition of having fluid in the middle ear is medically known as otitis media with effusion, or OME. It is characterized by the presence of a viscous fluid behind the eardrum that is not attributed to an ear infection, as stated by MedlinePlus.
OME is a highly frequent occurrence, especially among young children. This is typically associated with the shape and size of their ear tubes and with an underdeveloped immune system. In most cases, OME has no visible manifestations in kids. The most commonly observed signs include increasing the volume when watching television or twitching on their ears, according to Healthline. Adults may experience a muffled quality to the sounds they hear.
Although OME is not an infection, it can be triggered from treating ear infections. A fluid called an effusion normally remains days or even weeks after administration of antibacterial or antiviral medications. Allergies, colds and substances that irritate the tube lining leads to swelling of the Eustachian tube, which results in OME. Drinking while in the supine position or experiencing sudden pressure changes may also cause OME, as explained by MedlinePlus.