Otology A6


Acute otitis media (adult)

Acute otitis media (AOM) is an infection of the middle ear space common in children following an upper respiratory tract infection. 

Symptoms include:

  • Acute onset otalgia associated with fever
  • URTI symptoms
  • Irritability
  • Ear tugging
  • Disturbed sleep

The usual causative organisms are viral though it is possible for bacteria such as Strep. pneumoniae and H. influenzae to cause AOM. Most cases of AOM self-resolve within the first 24-48 hours. Less than a third of cases resolve with rupture of the tympanic membrane. Within the first 24-48 hours, pain relief and observation is recommended. However, if symptoms persist beyond 48 hours, otorrhoea is present, bilateral symptoms, or if the patient is under 2 years old, then a short course of oral antibiotics (e.g. amoxicillin for 5 days) is advised.

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