Otitis media (OM) is a common condition in Australia. It represents a spectrum of diseases from otitis media with effusion (OME) to chronic suppurative otitis media. For all the OM diagnoses, Australian Indigenous children have higher rates of early onset, severe and persistent disease. OME is the most common form of OM and often occurs after an upper respiratory tract infection. It can be difficult to diagnose (and often goes unrecognised). Hearing loss is the most important complication. The middle-ear effusion impedes the movement of the tympanic membrane and causes a conductive hearing loss of around 25 dB. Around 20% will have a hearing loss exceeding 35 dB. Children with early onset, persistent, bilateral OME and hearing loss (or speech delay) are most likely to benefit from interventions. However, the impact of all the effective treatment options is modest. Giving advice about effective communication strategies for young children is always appropriate. The best evidence from randomised trials supports not using antihistamines and/or decongestants, considering a trial of antibiotics and referral for tympanostomy tubes. Despite the availability of evidence-based guidelines, giving advice about treatment is a challenge because recommendations vary according to condition, age, risk of complications and parental preference. While most children with OME can be effectively managed in primary care, we need to get children who meet the criteria for simple ear, nose and throat procedures that improve hearing on to ear, nose and throat surgery waiting lists. Long delays in hearing support may contribute to life-long social and economic disadvantage.
|Number of pages||5|
|Journal||Journal of Paediatric and Child Health|
|Publication status||Published - Nov 2017|