chapter  14
8 Pages


The cause of secretory otitis of childhood is not fully understood. It appears to be associated with chronic and recurrent upper-respiratory inflammation, recurring virus infections and the ‘catarrhal phase of childhood’ which has been recognised by GPs and paediatricians for a number of years. It is generally accepted that the function of the Eustachian tube in children is poor, and this appears to have a significant role in the condition. The presence of an enlarged or recurrently-infected adenoid (in the post-nasal space behind the nose) is also important, and chronic sinusitis with discharge draining into the postnasal space and causing inflammation of the Eustachian tubes may also cause the condition. Passive smoking is almost certainly a cause through irritation of the child’s airways. Finally, some cases are probably associated with allergy (to pollen, house dust and sometimes food such as dairy products) affecting the upper airway.