The pathogenesis of chronic suppurative otitis media (CSOM) includes complex interactions between microbial, immunologic, and genetic factors. To our knowledge, no study has focused on the association between childhood otitis media, immune regulation, inflammatory conditions, and chronic disease in adulthood. The present study aims to assess whether CSOM in childhood predicts immune-related inflammatory disorders or cardiovascular disease in adulthood. Another aim is to assess the association with oto-vestibular diseases in adulthood.
Population cohort study in Norway comprised 51,626 participants (mean age 52 years) who underwent a hearing investigation at 7 to 13 years of age where 189 were diagnosed with CSOM (otorhinolaryngologist diagnose) and 51,437 had normal hearing thresholds (controls). Data on adult disease were obtained from the Norwegian Patient Registry (ICD-10 codes from the specialist health services). We estimated associations with logistic regression analyses.
The associations between CSOM in childhood and disease in adulthood were as follows: chronic sinusitis (odds ratio 3.13, 95% confidence interval 1.15 to 8.52); cardiovascular disease (1.38, 1.01 to 1.88); hearing loss (5.58, 3.78 to 8.22); tinnitus (2.62, 1.07 to 6.41). The adult hearing loss among cases with childhood CSOM was most frequently registered as sensorineural. There was no statistically significant increased risk of later asthma (1.84 [0.98 to 3.48]), inflammatory bowel disease, inflammatory joint disease, systemic tissue disease, or vestibulopathy. The estimates were adjusted for age, sex, socio-economic status, and smoking.
Our large cohort study, which is the first to focus on the link between otitis media in childhood and immune-related inflammatory disorders later in life, does not confer a clear association. CSOM in childhood was strongly related to adult tinnitus and hearing loss, which was most frequently registered as sensorineural.