Recurrent Acute Otitis Media: What Are the Options for Treatment and Prevention?

Curr Otorhinolaryngol Rep. 2017;5(2):93-100. doi: 10.1007/s40136-017-0151-7. Epub 2017 May 9.


Purpose of review: To survey current strategies for treatment and prevention of recurrent acute otitis media (rAOM).

Recent findings: Treatment with systemic antibiotics is required in recurrent episodes of acute otitis media. A cautious attitude is recommended due to antibiotic resistance. Antibiotics also provide effective prophylaxis for rAOM. Topical treatment with ear drops is recommended in rAOM with otorrhea from tympanostomy tubes. Pneumococcal conjugated vaccines seem to have a moderate reductive effect on overall otitis media. The effect on rAOM is still unclear. Different administrations of immunoglobulins have not been effective against rAOM. Breastfeeding had a protective effect against rAOM. A recommendation against cigarette smoke exposure as a measure to prevent otitis seems warranted. An effect for adenoidectomy in children <2 years old with rAOM has been suggested. There is a strong genetic connection with rAOM. Probiotics and nasal spray with Streptococci might offer future opportunities as prophylaxis. Too little is known about complimentary treatments to give any recommendations.

Summary: Systemic antibiotics are still needed as treatment against episodes of AOM in rAOM children. There are several preventive measures that can be taken to reduce the burden of AOM but they all have a small-moderate effect. Systemic antibiotics provide effective prophylaxis in rAOM, but must be used with extreme caution due to the emerging antibiotic resistance.

Keywords: Adenoidectomy; Genetics; Recurrent acute otitis media; Recurrent acute otitis media antibiotics; Recurrent acute otitis media prevention; Recurrent acute otitis media treatment; Recurrent acute otitis media vaccines; rAOM.

Publication types

  • Review