JAMA Logo Chronic otitis media with effusion may be a persistent inflammation of the middle ear, in which effusion fluid is retained within the middle ear cavity. Otitis media with effusion (OME), on the other hand, appears as an ailment highly prevalent in childhood and is a common cause of hearing disturbances among kids. A latest study claims that children with chronic inflammation of the middle ear can undergo alterations in their sense of taste, and these changes may be associated to childhood obesity.

A case-control study was triggered to examine the seeming link between taste threshold in chronic otitis media with effusion (COME) patients and BMI. Taste thresholds of 42 children were measured. These kids were diagnosed with COME and subjected to an insertion of a small plastic tube into the eardrum to keep the middle ear aerated. Also the taste thresholds of 42 children without OME forming a control group were inspected. Four standard taste solutions, namely sugar, salt, citric acid and quinine hydrochloride were employed in chemical taste tests.

Experts observed that kids with COME had a significantly higher BMI than those in the control group. Taste thresholds on the anterior (front) part of the tongue appeared greater in kids with COME than those belonging to the control group. Il Ho Shin, M.D., of Kyung Hee University, Seoul, South Korea, and colleagues noted that thresholds of sweet and salty tastes were increased for those in the COME group. The thresholds of bitter and sour taste may also be somewhat higher in the otitis media group, but these differences were not statistically significant. In conclusion, it was asserted that pediatric patients with COME experience changes in taste and have heightened BMI.

The study is published in the March issue of Archives of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.