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Date of preparation: March 2018

What are the symptoms associated with acute otitis media? 

Symptoms can develop very quickly, and may include: 1 2

  • Ear pain
  • Irritability
  • Fever
  • Hearing loss
  • Discharge from the ear

Can complications of acute otitis media (AOM) be life-threatening?

Although complications of AOM are rare, very young children are still at risk of developing complications because their immune systems are still developing.3

Complications include: 3

  • Problems with speech and language development
  • Mastoiditis
  • Cholesteatoma
  • Labyrinthitis
  • Facial paralysis
  • Meningitis
  • Brain abscess  


  1. Liese J, et al. Incidence and clinical presentation of acute otitis media in children aged <6 years in European medical practices. Epidemiol Infect 2014; 142: 1778–88.
  2. American Academy of Pediatrics and American Academy of Family Physicians. Diagnosis and Management of Acute Otitis Media. Pediatrics 2004; 113: 1451–66.
  3. NHS Choices. Complications of middle ear infection. Available at: [Last accessed June 2015].


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