Frequent middle-ear infections are the bane to many parents and small children. Recent research shows that ear tubes, a traditional therapy, do not avoid later infections.
Remedies For Recurrent Ear Infection In Children
Middle ear infections (also known as acute otitis media) are second only to the common cold in terms of causing childhood suffering. They arise when the air-filled area behind the eardrum becomes polluted and fills with fluid, causing discomfort, fever, and hearing loss.
Some infants and toddlers are vulnerable to recurring infections. One alternative for treatment is to surgically insert a tiny tube into the eardrum to help remove fluid that has accumulated behind it.
The latest research, however, discovered that the strategy did not prevent subsequent infections. Of the 250 babies and toddlers studied, those who got ear tubes experienced about the same number of middle-ear infections as those who received only antibiotics for each session during the next two years.
According to Dr. Alejandro Hoberman, who is a lead researcher in UPMC Children’s Hospital, Pittsburgh, the positive news is that diseases in both groups reduced over time. He clarified that most children got rid of the infections. Because of the anatomy of their Eustachian tubes, which help clear fluid from the middle ear, babies and toddlers are predisposed to them. That changes as children get older.
The latest results, according to Hoberman, indicate that tubes should be avoided for many infants. However, if their ear infection rate does not decrease over time, some could need tubing, he said.
According to Dr. Steven Sobol, who is the chairman of the Section on Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at the American Academy of Pediatrics, the report backs up the long-held hypothesis that many children with chronic acute otitis media ultimately move out of their symptoms, regardless of whether they were treated medically or surgically.
However, according to Sobol, intervention decisions are influenced by a variety of variables. They involve determining if viruses are interfering with a child’s hearing and speech growth. Dr. Maura Cosetti of Mount Sinai’s New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, NYC, stressed this point.
Cosetti explained that the age of the children in the research corresponds to what is thought to be a critical time for speech and language production.
Unlike antibiotics, she explained, ear tubes can offer instant relief from hearing damage caused by middle-ear fluid, the benefit of which may be difficult to measure in the current sample.
The study involved 250 children ranging in age from 6 months to nearly 3 years who had had at least three middle-ear infections in the previous six months or four in the same year.
When a new infection struck, Hoberman’s staff assigned them at random to either get an ear tube surgically implanted or to administer oral antibiotics.When a new infection occurred, children who had ear tubes still received antibiotics via eardrops. If it didn’t work, they turned to antibiotics that could be taken orally.
Hoberman mentioned one possible benefit of ear tubes which was that,they allow for eardrop antibiotics. This can reduce the likelihood of bacteria developing antibiotic resistance elsewhere in the body. However, there was no obvious benefit of using ear tubes in terms of new infections or antibiotic resistance throughout the two-year trial.
The estimated prevalence of chronic ear infection in the ear-tube population was 1.5 a year, compared to 1.7 in the reference group. In both classes, infections decreased in the second year. The study discovered that children who had ear tubes needed fewer days of oral antibiotics. However, there was no distinction between the two groups that were delivering treatments, in terms of the risk of antibiotic-resistant bacteria being present in the nose or mouth.
However, Sobol pointed out that the ear-tube category has several additional benefits.
For one thing, they continued to be infection-free for a prolonged period before relapsing. Except for ear discharge, they have had fewer days with infection symptoms.
Babies should undergo the routine pneumococcal vaccine to better avoid middle-ear infections in the first place, according to Hoberman. Breastfeeding and shielding children from passive smoking will both help minimize the risk, he says.