When otitis media with effusion (OME), also known as 'glue ear', affects someone, the middle ear fills with thick fluid that can affect hearing development. There are frequently no symptoms, and parents often seek medical help only when they realize that hearing difficulties are occurring. Now OME can be treated using a simple nasal balloon procedure, which claims to reduce the impact of hearing loss and avoid unnecessary and ineffective use of antibiotics.
Study's co-author Dr. Ian Williamson at the University of Southampton, said, "Unfortunately, all available medical treatments for otitis media with effusion such as antibiotics, antihistamines, decongestants and intranasal steroids are ineffective and have unwanted effects, and hence cannot be recommended."
Researchers in UK undertook an open randomized controlled trial to determine if autoinflation with a nasal balloon could be used on a large scale to benefit children in primary care settings. The study involved 320 children aged 4 to 11 years who had recent histories of OME with confirmed fluid in one or both ears. The children receiving autoinflation were more likely than those in the control group to have normal middle-ear pressure at both one month (47.3% and 35.6%, respectively) and three months (49.6% and 38.3%, respectively) and have fewer days with symptoms.
Williamson added, "Autoinflation was a simple, low-cost procedure that could be taught to young children in a primary care setting with a reasonable expectation of compliance. The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners recently launched the free Handbook of Non-Drug Interventions (HANDI) and will soon include autoinflation as a treatment for otitis media with effusion."
The study was published in CMAJ.