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  • Nasal balloon can help treat glue ear

    Author: AAP

Children with a common middle-ear problem can be helped with a simple nasal balloon avoiding the need for antibiotics, a study shows.

A simple, cheap nasal balloon can help heal glue ear, a common childhood middle-ear problem that can affect hearing, a trial shows.

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The procedure avoids unnecessary and ineffective use of antibiotics, says Dr Ian Williamson, co-author of the study by the UK's University of Southampton.

The child blows through each nostril into a nozzle that inflates a small balloon, helping clear fluid in the middle ear and re-establish normal pressure.

Australian researchers welcomed the autoinflation treatment findings published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.


Cabrini Health
ACAS Assessor
St Vincent's Hospital

"At last, there is something effective to offer children with glue ear other than surgery," said Dr Chris Del Mar and Dr Tammy Hoffman from Bond University.

Many young children develop otitis media with effusion, also known as "glue ear," in which the middle ear fills with thick fluid that can affect hearing development.

"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 therefore cannot be recommended," wrote Dr Williamson.

The randomised UK trial involved 320 children aged 4 to 11.

A month later, 47 per cent of those who used the balloons were clear of the condition compared with 36 per cent of the others, while three months later the figures were 49 and 38 per cent.

"We have found the use of autoinflation in young, school-aged children with otitis media with effusion to be feasible, safe and effective in clearing effusions, and in improving important ear symptoms, concerns and related quality of life over a three-month watch-and-wait period."

The Bond University researchers noted there were barriers to using non-drug therapies widely in clinical practice.

Doctors needed to know about the effectiveness of autoinflation, and how it is done, and must be able to instruct patients and families in its use, they said.ble to instruct patients and families in its use, they said.


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