Can otitis externa (OE) cause serious complications or morbidity?

Updated: Mar 09, 2020
  • Author: Ariel A Waitzman, MD, FRCSC; Chief Editor: Ravindhra G Elluru, MD, PhD  more...
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Answer

Although OE rarely causes prolonged problems or serious complications, the infection is responsible for significant pain and acute morbidity (see Presentation). Prompt diagnosis (see DDx and Workup) and appropriate therapy (see Treatment) cure the majority of cases without complications; however, patients who are diabetic, immunocompromised, or untreated may develop necrotizing (malignant) OE, a potentially life-threatening infection.

In 2014, the American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery Foundation (AAO-HNSF) released updated clinical practice guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of acute OE (see Guidelines). [3]


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