Posts tagged Earache
For children with a common middle-ear problem, a new study reports that a simple treatment with a nasal balloon may diminish issues of hearing loss and avoid the unnecessary use of antibiotics, according to a study published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).
Common to young children is their developing otitis media with effusion, aka “glue ear.” This condition occurs when the middle ear fills with thick fluid that may affect the development in hearing. Currently, no symptoms manifest themselves, so parents most often take their children with hearing difficulties to see a doctor. In 2004 in the US, 2.2 million were diagnosed with otitis media with effusion, costing an estimated $4 billion.
“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,” writes Dr. Ian Williamson, Primary Care and Population Sciences, University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom, with coauthors.
In the study published in the CMAJ, researchers from the United Kingdom surveyed a randomized control trial to determine if auto-inflation with a nasal balloon could be used on a large scale in order to see if children could inflate a balloon in each nostril within a primary care setting. The results were surprising in the effectiveness of such a procedure, although shown only in small trials.
“Autoinflation is a simple, low-cost procedure that can be taught to young children in a primary care setting with a reasonable expectation of compliance,” write the authors. “We have found 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 3-month watch-and-wait period.”
The nasal balloon has been around for decades, known as a home remedy. This treatment is similar to popping your nose when your ears get clogged on airplanes.
The researchers suggest that this treatment should be used more widely in children over age 4 to manage otitis media with effusion and help treat the associated hearing loss.
What’s important about this DIY therapy for autoinflation is that it’s a nondrug intervention, and that it’s underrepresented in research and clinical practice. If you’re child suffers from otitis media, ask you doctor about this simple procedure that has been around for decades.
While there are barriers to using nondrug therapies, in the case of autoinflation, doctors need to know about other effective techniques; how they are done and how to instruct patients and families in how to use it.
Is Ear Tube Surgery Worth the Benefits?
When a child has fluid in their middle ear, parents are faced with a big decision. Do they choose to take the risk of ear tube surgery and put in ear tubes or do they wait and see? New research is causing doctors to reconsider their positions on this subject.
Researchers looked at cases of children who suffered from otitis media with effusion, or OME, and subsequently who had ear tube surgery. They found that while this procedure improved hearing for a time and relieved some of the pain, putting in ear tubes, in the long run, did not amount to the effects they were hoping for. The improvements in hearing ability as a result of ear tube surgery only lasted less than a year.
Fluid in the middle ear can cause pain and hearing loss, but the fluid itself does not carry an infection. OME affects most children and has at least one case in their childhood years. It is the leading cause for ear tube surgery. One technique is to make a small cut and insert a tube to relieve pain by draining fluid and decreasing pressure. At times this procedure is coupled with another where tissue is removed from the throat. Treatment results were seen to last up to two years. The conclusion of the case review was that while these types of procedures can have positive short-term effects, they do not really make a difference in the long-term development of speech and hearing.
When weighing their options for ear tube surgery, parents should consider the possible positive effects and the short-term improvements in their child’s life against the possible risks that come with undergoing surgery. In the studies, researchers were also hoping to find what the effects of these types of procedures would be on adults, but unfortunately the results were inconclusive.
When pressure increases in the air around you, your Eustachian tubes are responsible for balancing things out inside your ears. The problem is that these tubes can be blocked by allergies, sinus problems or a cold. The result is discomfort and potentially an ear infection.
The Eustachian tubes are tiny. They only measure about 1.5 inches in length. These tubes, which are only a few millimeters in diameter, connect your ears, nose and throat. The tubes open and close depending on what you are doing. During speech, or while yawing and swallowing, the tubes open. Fluid from your ears drains to the back of your throat by means of these tubes. They also occasionally open up to allow pressure to be regulated.
If you are suffering from a cold or allergies, swelling may cause the Eustachian tubes to be unable to perform their usual function. Sinus congestion can also block these tubes. In children, a buildup of fluid can be dangerous and result in temporary or even permanent hearing damage. Children are more susceptible to inner ear problems because their Eustachian tubes are not done developing and cannot drain fluid down the throat like they do for adults.
Sometimes flying on an airplane can increase problems with the Eustachian tubes because of the cabin pressure changes. To limit this effect, you may wish to chew gum. This will increase saliva production and cause you to swallow more frequently. Frequent swallowing will keep the Eustachian tubes open.
There are a number of different ways to treat ear aches that are caused by Eustachian tube issues. Proper breathing techniques can be of assistance. Also, if an infection occurs, your doctor will prescribe an antibiotic for you. If the problem is due to inflammation, a corticosteroid may be prescribed to reduce the swelling and help fluid to drain. A final option is the surgical implanting of tubes into the ear drums to keep swelling from being able to block the tubes. This procedure is more frequently performed on children in an effort to preserve their hearing when it is being threatened by frequent or severe Eustachian tube blockages.