Otitis media with effusion (OME) or 'glue ear' is the most common cause of pediatric hearing loss, and a drain on global healthcare resources. It is associated with frequent episodes of acute otitis media (AOM) and upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) and linked with environmental and social factors, including diet, smoking households, overcrowding and day care use. Current conventional treatment for OME is unsatisfactory, the area constitutes an 'effectiveness gap'. Homeopathy is a relatively common and popular choice of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatment for childhood conditions, including otitis media. Antibiotic resistance is now a major global problem, homeopathy may have a role to play in combating its further development.
Systematic review of the literature for clinical studies of homeopathy for AOM and upper respiratory tract disorders. Discussion in the context of current treatment options and public health issues including antibiotic resistance.
Several randomized trials and outcome studies of homeopathy for AOM and upper respiratory tract disorders have been published. The results are encouraging, but the volume of research is small and insufficient to draw definitive conclusions.
A strategy based on multi-centre or multiple, linked clinical trials of homeopathy for OME, using a pragmatic framework and evaluating long-term effects in different settings, in conjunction with other healthcare and social services should be considered. Reduction of antibiotic use is an important outcome.