Guidelines for the Treatment of Acute Otitis Media: Why Are There Worldwide Differences?

Sharon Ovnat Tamir, Andres Sibbald, Vedantam Rupa, Paola Marchisio, Preben Homøe, Sam J. Daniel, Frida Enoksson, Tal Marom

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Purpose of Review: This study aims to review differences between acute otitis media (AOM) diagnosis and treatment guidelines from different countries, with regards to the aspects of diagnostic criteria and methods, supplementary tests, treatment options, recommended first-, second-, and third-line antibiotics, non-antibiotic treatment options, and preventive means and measures. Recent Findings: Tympanic membrane (TM) bulging, opacity, and presence of middle ear fluid are the pillars for diagnosis, as marginal/uncertain cases are not accepted anymore. Guidelines from developed countries offer the use of pneumatic otoscopy and tympanometry to aid diagnosis. Withholding antibiotic therapy and a “watchful waiting” in mild-moderate cases are preferred in settings where follow-up visits are both possible and attainable, mostly in developed countries. While amoxicillin is mostly accepted as the first-line antibiotic therapy, options for second- and third-line antibiotics vary, according to local bacteriology and antimicrobial susceptibility data and costs. Other treatments, such as complementary and alternative medicine, steroids, or anti-histamines, are either rejected or ignored. Reduction of known risk factors and call for vaccinations (influenza, pneumococcal conjugate vaccine) are encouraged mostly in developed countries, where such immunizations have been implemented in National Immunization Programs. Summary: Despite regional differences, AOM guidelines worldwide share common grounds on various matters concerning diagnosis and management: diagnosis based on TM findings observed on otoscopy and/or pneumatic otoscopy or tympanometry, “watchful waiting” approach in appropriate cases, oral analgesic treatment using ibuprofen/paracetamol, reduction of risk factors, and preventive measures to reduce AOM.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-107
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Otorhinolaryngology Reports
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Acute otitis media
  • Clinical practice guidelines
  • Diagnosis
  • Otoscopy
  • Treatment
  • Tympanic membrane

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Surgery
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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