What is best for recurrent ear infections in children?
“The age of the children in the study … matches what is believed to be a sensitive period in speech and language development,” Cosetti said.
Unlike antibiotics, ear tubes “can cause immediate relief hearing loss in relation to middle-ear fluid – the value of which may be difficult to estimate in current research “.
According to Sobol, the research “emphasizes the importance of creating an individualized approach to management.”
In the test, 250 children, ranging in age from 6 months to almost 3 years, had recurrent infections of the middle ear – at least three in six months or four years.
Hoberman’s team randomly assigned them to surgically place an ear canal or receive oral antibiotics each time a new infection occurred.
Children given ear tubes also received antibiotics when a new infection arose, but caused by a fall in the ear. If that didn’t work, they switched to oral antibiotics.
Hoberman points out that one potential advantage of ear tubes is that they support antibiotic drops in the ear. This can reduce the risk of bacteria anywhere else in the body antibiotic resistance.
In the two-year study, however, there was no clear advantage for ear tubes when it comes to fighting new infections or antibiotics.
The average rate of recurrent ear infections was about 1.5 per year in the ear canal group and 1.7 in the comparison group. Infections decreased in the second year in both groups.
According to the study, children with ear canals were given fewer days with oral antibiotics.
The two treatment groups showed no difference in taking antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the nose or throat.
However, Sobol noted that there were other advantages in the ear canal group.
On the one hand, they continued to have more time without infection before repeating for the first time. They generally had fewer days with symptoms of infection, except for drainage from the ear.
At the same time, Hoberman says, ear tubes are dangerous, even if they are small. During the procedure, there may be bleeding or reactions to anesthesia. In the long run, the tube may become blocked or cause structural changes in the eardrum.