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Definition of Acute Otitis Media (AOM)

A diagnosis of AOM requires:

  1. a history of acute onset of signs and symptoms,

  2. the presence of middle-ear effusion (MEE), and

  3. signs and symptoms of middle-ear inflammation.

Elements of the definition of AOM are all of the following:

  1. Recent, usually abrupt, onset of signs and symptoms of middle-ear inflammation and MEE

  2. The presence of MEE that is indicated by any of the following:

a. Bulging of the tympanic membrane

b. Limited or absent mobility of the tympanic membrane

c. Air-fluid level behind the tympanic membrane

d. Otorrhea

  1. Signs or symptoms of middle-ear inflammation as indicated by either

a. Distinct erythema of the tympanic membrane or

b. Distinct otalgia (discomfort clearly referable to the ear[s] that results in interference with or precludes normal activity or sleep)


Related Criteria

Case Definition of Staphylococcal Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS)

Case Definition of Streptococcal Toxic-Shock Syndrome (Streptococcal TSS) and Necrotizing Fasciitis




  1. American Academy of Pediatrics Subcommittee on Management of Acute Otitis Media. Diagnosis and management of acute otitis media. Pediatrics. 2004 May;113(5):1451-65. [Medline]

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Created: Oct 29, 2007
Last Modified: 10-23-2010


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