What is acute otitis media (AOM)?

Updated: Sep 25, 2019
  • Author: John D Donaldson, MD, FRCSC, FACS; Chief Editor: Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA  more...
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Answer

In the United States, acute otitis media (AOM), defined by convention as the first 3 weeks of a process in which the middle ear shows the signs and symptoms of acute inflammation, is the most common affliction necessitating medical therapy for children younger than 5 years. [1, 2, 3] See the image below.

Tympanic membrane of a person with 12 hours of ear Tympanic membrane of a person with 12 hours of ear pain, slight tympanic membrane bulge, and slight meniscus of purulent effusion at bottom of tympanic membrane. Reproduced with permission from Isaacson G: The natural history of a treated episode of acute otitis media. Pediatrics. 1996; 98(5): 968-7.

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