Current Content
Volume 37 - Number 5
September-October 2011

Topical vs. Systemic Treatments For Acute Otitis Media
Kathy Thornton, Francie Parrish, Christine Swords

Acute otitis media (AOM) is a common condition in children that is often treated with systemic antibiotic therapy; however, research suggests that non-complicated AOM will resolve spontaneously using only eardrops. To determine best practice for the use of systematic antibiotics compared to topical treatment of AOM, a systematic review of evidence was conducted. Cochrane, Medline, CINAHL, and other databases were searched. Inclusion criteria were studies published from 1995-2010 that included children with AOM and were randomized controlled trials (RCTs). Five systematic reviews and five RCTs were included in the review. Current evidence recommends using topical and other alternative approaches for treating non-complicated AOM in children 2 years of age or older; however, many practitioners are not currently following these recommendations for various reasons. Additional research to address these reasons may help determine how to improve practitioner adherence to best practice evidence and guidelines to help reduce the unnecessary use of systemic antibiotics.