Objective: Otitis media (OM) is a common childhood disease and a frequent reason for seeking medical care in general practice. Only few studies have focused on what happens after diagnosis and initial treatment of OM. In particular, there is a lack of research on how different patient- and disease-related factors influence the course of OM. The aim of this study was to analyze to what extent symptoms at the time of initial diagnosis are associated with the short-term course of otitis media.
Methods: Cohort study in general practice comprising 747 children between 0 and 7 years with a new ear symptom. At the first consultation the GPs registered symptoms, results of otoscopy and tympanometry, together with diagnosis and treatment. The children were followed up four weeks later.
Results: Sleep problems at inclusion are statistically significant associated with having one or more symptom after four weeks in children between 0 and 2 years (OR: 2.02 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.24-3.31)). If the result of tympanometry is a flat curve, the OR for being referred is 3.24 (CI: 1.61-6.55) in children between 0 and 2 years compared to children without a flat curve. The OR for being referred in children between 2 and 7 years with a flat curve is 8.94 (CI: 4.18-19.11) when compared to children without a flat curve.
Conclusion: Sleep problems at inclusion were the only symptom statistically significant associated with having one or more symptoms after four weeks in children between 0 and 2 years.
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