Effects of COVID-19 Lockdown on Otitis Media With Effusion in Children: Future Therapeutic Implications

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Objective: To evaluate the role of social isolation during the lockdown due to the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) in modifying the prevalence of otitis media with effusion (OME) and the natural history of chronic OME. Study Design: Retrospective study. Setting: Tertiary level referral audiologic center. Methods: We assessed the prevalence of OME among children aged 6 months to 12 years who attended the outpatient clinic for hearing or vestibular disorders during 2 periods before the lockdown, May-June 2019 (n = 350) and January-February 2020 (n = 366), and the period immediately after the lockdown, May-June 2020 (n = 216). We also compared the disease resolution rates between a subgroup of children with chronic OME (n = 30) who were diagnosed in summer 2019 and reevaluated in May-June 2020 and a similar subgroup (n = 29) assessed in 2018-2019. Results: The prevalence of OME in this clinic population was 40.6% in May-June 2019, 52.2% in January-February 2020, and 2.3% in May-June 2020. Children with chronic OME had a higher rate of disease resolution in May-June 2020 (93.3%) than those examined in May-June 2019 (20.7%, P <.001). Conclusion: Closure of schools and the physical distancing rules were correlated with a reduction in the prevalence of OME and favored the resolution of its chronic forms among children who attended the outpatient clinic. These data could suggest that in the presence of chronic OME, keeping young children out of group care settings for a period might be beneficial to allow for OME resolution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)710-715
JournalOtolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery (United States)
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • children
  • COVID-19
  • day care attendance
  • lockdown
  • otitis media with effusion
  • physical distancing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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