Middle ear fluid in young children: Part II

How Can Middle Ear Fluid Be Treated?

Middle ear fluid can be treated in many ways. It is important to know that a treatment that works for one child may not work for another. IF one treatment does note work, another treatment can be tried. Please discuss each of the treatments listed below with your child's health care provider. Be sure to ask about the possible advantages and disadvantages of each treatment as well. Then, decide with your child's health care provider on the treatment for middle ear fluid.

  • Observation. Middle car fluid often goes away without treatment. Some studies show that for most children middle ear fluid clears after 3 to 6 months without treatment.
  • Antibiotic Drug Treatment. Studies show that middle ear fluid cleared slightly faster in some children given antibiotic drugs than those not given antibiotics. However, antibiotics have some unwanted effects, such as diarrhea, rash, and others. Also they can be expensive and some children have trouble taking them. For these reasons, you and your child's health care provider may want to try observation first.
  • Surgery to put "tubes" in the ears. In this minor operation, a small cut is made in the child's eardrum and fluid in the middle ear is gently sucked out. Then a small metal or plastic tube is put into the slit in the eardrum. A general anesthetic is used to put the child to sleep for this operation. When the fluid is removed from the middle ear, the child's hearing returns to its normal level.
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