Asthma, COPD up chronic otitis media risk

19 Mar 2022
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Patients with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may be at a higher risk of chronic otitis media (COM), reports a recent study.

Researchers enrolled 11,587 COM patients (age ≥40 years, 53.1 percent women) who were matched 1:4 with healthy controls (n=46,348) according to sex, age, income, and residence area. Asthma and COPD had period prevalence rates of 17.5 percent and 6.6 percent, respectively, in the COM group, and 14.3 percent and 5.0 percent, respectively in controls. Both respiratory diseases were significantly more common in COM patients (p<0.001 for both).

Conditional logistic regression analysis found that participants with asthma (odds ratio [OR], 1.23, 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 1.16–1.31; p<0.001) and COPD (OR, 1.23, 91 percent CI, 1.13–1.35; p<0.001) were significantly more likely to have COM, an effect that remained significant even after adjusting for covariates.

Moreover, stratified analysis revealed that the effect of COPD and asthma on COM risk remained true even when focusing on subgroups according to age (<60 and ≥60 years), sex, income level, and place of residence (urban and rural).

Similarly, COM patients showed a significantly higher likelihood of having asthma and COPD.

Whereas the link between asthma and COM has been explored before, “to the best of our knowledge, no studies have reported the epidemiological association between COPD and otitis media,” the researchers said. Several causative factors for COPD, such as infections and tobacco use, could also compromise the eustachian tube and middle ear epithelium, giving rise to COM. Future studies should strive to better elucidate the mechanism by which COPD affects COM risk.

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