Can This Non-Invasive Treatment Help Prevent Ear Infections?

Many kids suffer from recurring ear infections – and doctors sometimes give them antibiotics that don’t help and can lead to antibiotic-resistant disease strains. Can a new drug-free solution help get rid of chronic ear infections?

Pediatric Otolaryngologist Dr. Nina Shapiro joins The Doctors to explain how the nasal balloon treatment works. And Doctors’ staffer Nicole has brought her daughter Morgan along to try the procedure out!

Watch: Home Remedy for Ear Infections

“Ear infections are very common in kids,” explains Dr. Shapiro. “Almost every child, at least 90 percent, has at least one ear infection by the time they’re about nine or ten.” However, some kids experience multiple infections a year or have infections that don’t clear up, which can lead to a condition called “glue ear” – “the fluid behind the eardrum gets really thick and stuck,” she says. The consequences can include hearing loss and speech delays.

A study has shown that the nasal balloon treatment offered a 10-percent improvement for patients. “You use this three times a day, with a very cooperative child!” Dr. Shapiro says. Morgan agrees to give it a try. The device goes in one nostril while the child holds the other closed, then she blows out as hard as she can to blow up the balloon.
Morgan says she’d be willing to try this to help with her ear infections – it was kind of fun! Plastic Surgeon Dr. Andrew Ordon and Ob/Gyn Dr. Jennifer Ashton are inspired to try it too.

Watch: Chronic Ear Infection Surgery

“Something that is fun for kids is more likely to be attempted and continued,” ER Physician Dr. Travis Stork points out. He notes that this is a specialized device, not a balloon from the party store – talk to your doctor if your child has chronic ear infections to see if it might be an option for them.

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