Dealing with middle ear fluid in children

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A child with middle ear fluid can be treated with various measures. The usual treatment options include monitoring and tube or adenoid surgery. Since one treatment that works for one child might not be effective for another, the doctor can decide which treatment is ideal for the child and when to consult a specialist.

In case one treatment is not effective, another approach can be used. The doctor or specialist must be consulted regarding the advantages and drawbacks of each treatment approach.

When does it require treatment?

A child is likely to require treatment for middle ear fluid if any of the following are present:

Middle ear fluid
There are also other treatment options that are not suitable for young children with middle ear fluid.
  • Presence of certain conditions that puts him/her at risk for developmental delays
  • Hearing loss with other significant symptoms
  • Fluid is present in both ears particularly if present for more than 3 months

There are also other treatment options that are not suitable for young children with middle ear fluid. The medications that are not recommended include decongestants, antibiotics, steroids and antihistamines. These medications can cause side effects and could not cure middle ear fluid.

What are the possible complications?

Most cases of ear infections do not result to lasting complications. Constant infections and persistent buildup of fluid can lead to some serious complications.

  • Impaired hearing – in most cases, mild hearing loss that comes and goes is quite common if a child has middle ear fluid, but typically returns after the infection settles. In cases where the infection or fluid buildup is persistent, it can result to substantial hearing loss. If there is lasting impairment to the eardrum or other structures of the middle ear, irreversible hearing loss is inevitable.
  • Speech or developmental delays – if the hearing is briefly or permanently impaired among babies and toddlers, they might end up with delay in speech, development and social skills.
  • Spread of infection – if the infection is left untreated and in cases that do not respond to treatment, the infection can spread to the adjacent tissues.

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