Ear ache painful for the whole family

Ear ache is a common reason for children to be brought to their GP. The National Institute of Public Health in Canada has therefore looked at the impact of acute otitis media on families.

Random digit dialling was used to find a sample of 502 people, mostly mothers, providing care for children under five years. In the previous year, 32% of these caregivers had dealt with a case of acute otitis media.

In affected families, the average annual number of attacks was 2.2, but in 27% there had been three or more episodes. The mean age of the affected children was 37.4 months.

Each episode of acute otitis media lasted for a median of four days and most children were taken to a doctor.

The average distance people had to travel to see the doctor was 13.3 km. Some children were taken to emergency departments. 

Transport, waiting and the consultation took an average of 3.1 hours in those visiting the emergency department, compared to