Otitis media (OM) is a common illness in young children. OM has historically been associated with frequent and severe complications. Nowadays it is usually a mild condition that often resolves without treatment. For most children, progression to tympanic membrane perforation and chronic suppurative OM is unusual (low-risk populations); this has led to reevaluation of many interventions that were used routinely in the past. Evidence from a large number of randomized controlled trials can help when discussing treatment options with families. Indigenous children in the United States, Canada, Northern Europe, Australia, and New Zealand experience more OM than other children. In some places, Indigenous children continue to suffer from the most severe forms of the disease. Communities with more than 4% of the children affected by chronic tympanic membrane perforation have a major public health problem (high-risk populations). Higher rates of invasive pneumococcal disease, pneumonia, and chronic suppurative lung disease (including bronchiectasis) are also seen. These children will often benefit from effective treatment of persistent (or recurrent) bacterial infection.