A wireless kit may be an alternative to surgery when treating kids’ “glue ear,” according to a new study. As such in order to treat hearing loss that occurs as a result of the condition, all that may be required is a microphone, headphones, and an app versus multiple visits to the doctor, hearing aids, or more invasive therapies.
Researchers from Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust have discovered that treating kids who suffer from “glue ear” or otitis media with effusion, may no longer have to be done with surgery, according to Medical Xpress. Instead, to treat the hearing loss that commonly comes with the condition, something as simple headphones, a microphone, and an app may be the key to successfully helping kids hear again and improve their overall health.
The study, which was published in the British Medical Journal found that kids who undergo surgery to help treat hearing loss wind up suffering from an infection in the ear after a tube is placed under general anesthesia. And instead of helping the hearing loss that was caused by the “glue ear,” kids may not have any relief but instead have worse hearing loss than prior to undergoing surgery.
Other options to treat the condition include a cochlear implant, according to the study. And while they are effective, they are also expensive and require multiple visits to healthcare professionals to tweak appropriately to ensure that the volume level, feedback, and the like is appropriate for the user.
According to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, otitis media is a condition in which fluid fills up the middle ear space. It generally occurs after a bad cold or upper respiratory infection.
In most cases, the condition clears on its own within four to six weeks, per the publication. However, when the fluid is not able to clear itself due to a poorly functioning Eustachian tube, hearing loss either temporarily or permanently can result.
In order to determine that a headset, microphone, and an app would work, the researchers tested a commercially available Bone Conduction Kit along with the Hear Glue Ear app, according to California News Times.
This device along with the app was tested on nearly 30 kids between the ages of 3 and 11 years old who were diagnosed with “glue ear.” Parents were also provided an “Otitis Media Quality of life questionnaire” to properly assess just how bad the hearing loss was in the affected kids.
Progress was then monitored for three months, according to the study.
After three months, of the 19 parents who stated their child’s hearing was “poor or very poor,” according to Medical Xpress. None of the parents described their child’s hearing this way when the kit was being used. In fact, 24 parents described their child’s hearing as “normal” or “slightly below normal” instead.
Of the families, 23 said that their child “always” or “often” had problems hearing as a result of their condition. With the use of the kits, according to the publication, 22 out of 26 families reported there was “rarely” or “never” hearing loss when using the device.
At the end of the study, none of the families, over 80 percent of which were scheduled for surgery had undergone surgery. Instead, opting to continue to use the kits until the hearing had improved to pre-otitis media hearing.
Researchers state that larger-scale studies need to be completed in order to determine that the kits are a success for treating a majority of those who suffer from “glue ear” without surgery. However, given that this small-scale study showed that surgery was not necessary for the participants, it is encouraging that there may be a more cost-effective treatment versus having a hearing aid. And if surgery is taken off the table, that means that the potential for scar tissue to develop is no longer a worry as well.
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