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J Laryngol Otol. 1990 Sep;104(9):682-4.

Dysequilibrium and otitis media with effusion: what is the association?

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Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge.


An association between non-suppurative otitis media (NSOM) and symptoms of dysequilibrium has been observed but not previously quantified in children (Gates, 1980; Busis, 1983; Blayney and Coleman, 1984). This study compared the incidence of balance related problems in 154 children with surgically proven glue ear and 51 children with normal ear function. Symptoms ranging from true vertigo to mild ataxia were discovered in 22 per cent of the children with NSOM but in none of those within the control group (p less than 0.001). Periods of dysequilibrium were associated with episodes of otalgia in 64 per cent of the children but were not increased in those with unilateral compared to those with bilateral effusions. Complete resolution of symptoms occurred in 85 per cent of children following the insertion of grommets. A history of balance disturbance should be actively sought in all children with otitis media with effusion, and when present, provides a strong indication for early operative intervention.

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