Background: Acute otitis media is a common childhood infection. Prompt diagnosis and
appropriate treatment are very important.
Objective: To review in depth the epidemiology, pathophysiology, clinical manifestations, diagnosis,
complications and particularly treatment of acute otitis media in children.
Methods: A PubMed search was completed in Clinical Queries using the key term “acute otitis media”.
Patents were searched using the key term “acute otitis media” from www.google.com/patents,
http://espacenet.com, and www.freepatentsonline.com.
Results: Acute otitis media affects over 80% of children before their third birthday and 30 to 45% of
these children have suffered two or more episodes. Streptococcus pneumoniae, nontypable Haemophilus
influenzae, and Moraxella catarrhalis are the most frequently isolated middle-ear pathogens. The
diagnosis is based on acute onset of symptoms such as otalgia and fever, middle ear inflammation such
as erythema of the tympanic membrane, and middle ear effusion. The choice of treatment method depends
on the age of the child, laterality, and the severity of the disease. Recent patents related to the
management of acute otitis media are also retrieved and discussed.
Conclusion: Antimicrobial treatment is recommended for all children less than two years of age, as
well as in children ≥ two years of age who have a temperature ≥ 39oC; are toxic looking; have otalgia >
48 hours; have bilateral otitis media or otorrhea; have craniofacial abnormalities; are immunocompromised;
or have uncertain access to follow-up. Amoxicillin is the drug of choice. Observation without
antibiotic is an option in immunocompetent children ≥ two years of age who have an acute uncomplicated
otitis media and non-severe illness if appropriate follow-up can be arranged.