The continuing challenge of early detection of acute otitis media in children

  • VF Ette Department of Otolaryngology, University of Uyo Teaching Hospital, PMB 1136, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria


Objective: The aim of the study is to highlight the clinical problem of acute otitis media in children as seen in Uyo with particular reference to difficulties of early detection over a 6 year period (1999-2004).

Methodology: A six-year retrospective study (1999-2004) was carried out to evaluate the clinical presentation and early detection of acute otitis media in children. Case-notes of all children aged 2 weeks to 3 years who presented with ear aches and/or ear discharge of not more than 7 days were reviewed noting the symptoms that preceded the ear discharge and the treatment offered prior to presentation at the ENT Clinic.

Results: A total of 273 children within the age range under review were seen with acute otitis media. 48.4% (132) were males and 51.6% (141) were females giving a M:F ratio of 1:1.2. Majority of the mothers (92%) actually reported to physicians while the rest (7.7%) visited chemists due to the early fever. All the mothers admitted to treating the children for malaria.

Conclusion: Many clinicians consulted by children with febrile conditions miss the diagnosis of acute otitis media in the pre-otorrhoea phase. Most of such children are first treated for malaria while the ear is left to progress to discharge before attention is paid to it. The need to ensure complete examination of every febrile child, including otoscopy is highlighted. The importance of providing adequate facilities such as otoscopes in every consulting clinic cannot be over-emphasized. It will reduce the incidence of discharging ears with its attendant short and long term dangers in children.

Keywords: acute otitis media, children, early detection

Nigerian Journal of Otorhinolaryngology Vol. 2(2) 2005: 60-63

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