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New horizons: otitis media research in Australia

By Peter S. Morris, Peter Richmond, Debora Lehmann, Amanda J. Leach, Hasantha Gunasekere and Harvey L. C. Coates


Otitis media affects nearly all children worldwide. Despite an enormous amount of research, our understanding of this common condition continues to be challenged. New pathogens involved in otitis media are still being identified. The importance of interactions between viral and bacterial infection and the role of new vaccines need to be clarified. The proposal that bacteria can become more resistant to therapy through biofilm formation and intracellular infection could have important implications for treatment. The most important clinical research findings have been summarised in systematic reviews. In developed countries, research supporting “watchful waiting” of otitis media with effusion and acute otitis media have had most impact on evidence-based clinical practice guidelines. Indigenous Australian children remain at risk of more severe otitis media. Research programs targeting this population have been well supported. Unfortunately, interventions that can dramatically improve outcomes have remained elusive. For children at high risk of otitis media, health care services should concentrate on accurate diagnosis, antibiotic treatment of suppurative infections, and scheduled follow-up of affected children. Despite the lack of recent studies, strategies to minimise the impact the hearing loss associated with otitis media are important. Improvements in education, hygiene practices, and living conditions are likely to reduce the incidence and severity of otitis media. Studies of these types of interventions are needed

Publisher: Australasian Medical Publishing Company Pty. Ltd.
Year: 2009
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