Background: An increase in severe complications to otitis media is a potential threat to antibiotic restrictions and is difficult to measure due to its low-prevalent nature. Easily accessible indicators sensitive to illness change are needed to benchmark the judicious use of antibiotics.
Objective: To investigate whether there has been a constant increase of hospital admissions for acute otitis media after the year 2000.
Methods: Registry-based study with complete data on hospitalization for acute otitis media and acute mastoiditis in Norway during 1999 to 2006.
Results: Mean incidence rate for acute otitis media hospitalization was 22.4 per 10,000 children and peak incidence in the second year of life 52.2 per 10,000 children. Corresponding mean incidence rate and peak incidence for acute mastoiditis were 1.5 and 3.5 per 10,000 children in the second year of life, respectively. There was a gradient increase of the incidence rates of acute otitis media hospitalization from the year 2000 to 2006 considering the Poisson regression model with a significant test of linear trend.
Conclusions: Hospital admission for acute otitis media is prevalent enough to be a useful marker for otitis media severity and its distribution proportionate to that of acute mastoiditis.