Simple ‘Nasal balloon’ procedure to treat hearing loss in kids

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Published: July 29, 2015 4:39:58 PM

Now, kids suffering from otitis media with effusion (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.

Now, kids suffering from otitis media with effusion (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.

When 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 hearing difficulties occur.

Study’s co-author Dr Ian Williamson at the University of Southampton, said that 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.

UK researchers undertook an open randomised controlled trial to determine if autoinflation with a nasal balloon could be used on a large scale to benefit children in primary care settings, which 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 per cent and 35.6 per cent, respectively) and three months (49.6 per cent and 38.3 per cent, respectively) and have fewer days with symptoms.

Williamson added that “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 is published in CMAJ.

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