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Impact of swimming on chronic suppurative otitis media in Aboriginal children: a randomised controlled trial

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Rates of chronic suppurative otitis media (CSOM) among Aboriginal children living in remote areas in Australia are the highest in the world.1,2 A survey of 29 Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory found that 40% of children had a tympanic membrane perforation (TMP) by 18 months of age.3 About 50%–80% of Aboriginal children with CSOM suffer from moderate to severe hearing loss.4,5 This occurs while language and speech are developing and may persist throughout primary school.

There is evidence suggesting that the recommended treatment for ear discharge (twice-daily cleaning and topical ciprofloxacin) can produce cure rates of 70%–90%.68 However, a study of Aboriginal children with CSOM in the NT found that less than 30% of children had resolution of ear discharge after 8 weeks of similar treatment.9 This study suggested that ongoing treatment for long periods was difficult for many Aboriginal families living in…