Otitis media with effusion (OME), also called serous otitis media, is defined as middle-ear effusion without acute signs of infection . The term “glue ear” is sometimes used as a synonym for OME, but should be reserved for cases in which the effusion is long-standing and the fluid in the middle ear has become thick and glue-like . OME often occurs after acute otitis media (AOM), but it also may occur with eustachian tube obstruction in the absence of AOM. Some children, specifically as described in indigenous populations, may have relatively few symptoms despite the presence of an opaque and bulging tympanic membrane. These children usually have a purulent otitis despite the absence of systemic signs such as fever .
The clinical features and diagnosis of OME will be reviewed here. The management of OME and the clinical features, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of AOM are discussed separately:
●(See "Otitis media with effusion (serous otitis media) in children: Management".)
●(See "Acute otitis media in children: Epidemiology, microbiology, clinical manifestations, and complications".)
●(See "Acute otitis media in children: Diagnosis".)