Acute Otitis Media
David McCormick, MD
Acute otitis media (AOM) is an infection that involves the middle ear. The tympanic
membrane becomes inflamed and opaque. Blood vessels to the area dilate. Fluid accumulates
in the middle ear space. AOM is usually associated with infection by viruses or bacteria,
although in some cases, an infecting pathogen cannot be identified.
The primary goal of this website is to promote the accurate diagnosis of acute
otitis media. We present a method to differentiate the more severe cases from the mild
The student and clinician will learn to:
- describe ways to
perform the AOM-focused history and
- interpret the features
of a tympanogram that support the diagnosis
from severe AOM
- develop an appropriate
treatment plan (using a set of
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Although in the United States today, the mainstay of treatment of AOM is a course
of antibiotics, research indicates that
many cases of mild AOM will heal without antibiotics. There are many reasons why our
society needs to use antibiotics more judiciously.