HEALTH MATTERS: Taking a closer look at acute otitis media in kids

April 2006 
Volume 36  Number 4
Pages 20 - 21
  PDF Version Available!



ACUTE OTITIS MEDIA (AOM) is the most common reason for antibiotic use in children in the United States; over 90% of children experience at least one episode of this disorder by age 2.

In this article, I'll discuss how to recognize AOM in children, how to care for your patient, and what to teach her parents to decrease the risk of a recurrence. But first, let's review some basic concepts.

Coming to terms

Otitis media is a general term for inflammation of the middle ear. Acute otitis media is the presence of a middle ear effusion (fluid in the middle ear) accompanied by rapid onset of signs and symptoms of middle ear inflammation.

Because infants and young children have short, horizontal eustachian tubes, they're prone to obstructions of the middle ear, which let fluid accumulate. Bacteria can proliferate in the fluid, leading to middle ear inflammation and infection.

The bacteria ...

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