Changing the therapeutic approach to acute otitis media in children

Zahi Grossman, David Branski

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Acute Otitis Media (AOM) is the most common reason for pediatrician's visits and for antibiotic prescription in childhood. A significant rise in bacterial resistance to antibiotic treatment has been detected in recent years. Accordingly, the attitude towards antibiotic treatment for AOM has been re-evaluated. Due to various difficulties in ear examination, physicians overdiagnosis Otitis Media with Effusion (OME) as AOM, leading to unnecessary prescription of antibiotics. The natural history of AOM shows spontaneous improvement without complications. Studies that have examined antibiotic treatment versus placebo in AOM have shown only minimal advantage for the antibiotic therapy in symptom reduction. Critical appraisal of the literature according to Evidence-based Medicine (EBM) criteria has led to several meta-analyses that showed only a minor advantage for antibiotics over placebo in AOM. In the Netherlands, the approach to AOM is that of delayed prescribing: symptomatic therapy is given for the first 24-72 hours and an antibiotic drug is prescribed only if symptoms persist after this initial period. This review examines the difficulties in reaching an accurate diagnosis of AOM and describes the natural history of AOM and evaluates the studies and meta-analyses comparing antibiotics to placebo. The Dutch approach to AOM will be discussed as an option and a recommended basis for reduction in antibiotic prescriptions for AOM.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-282+317-318
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2004
Externally publishedYes


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