Conclusions. The historical study of serous otitis media (SOM) demonstrates steps in recognition of the disease, shifts in prevalence, and relationships between the disease's affect and evolving economic bases of society. Objective. SOM, although noted in early Roman and Arabic medicine, was only identified as a distinct and significant pathology in the last half of the 20th century. This paper examines the development of understanding of SOM, and ways in which it has been cared for during the 20th and 21st centuries. Materials and methods. The medical literature from antiquity to the present was reviewed for mention of otological conditions that related to SOM. For this report, the primary source of each notation was examined. Results. The first part of the 20th century saw little change from earlier times in the recognition or treatment of SOM. Our current 21st century conceptualization and concern for SOM has come about from five advances: antibiotics, the rediscovery of the tympanostomy tube, the clinical use of middle ear impedance, the association of a history of otitis with linguistic deficiency, and recognition of the significance of transformation to a communication-based economy.
- Serous otitis media
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