Autoinflation for otitis media with effusion helpful in the short term

Clinical question: 
Is autoinflation effective for hearing loss in adults and children with otitis media with effusion?
Bottom line: 
Evidence for the use of autoinflation in the short term (up to 3 months) is favourable. Given the low cost and absence of adverse effects it is reasonable to consider autoinflation whist awaiting natural resolution of otitis media with effusion.
Caveat: 
All of the studies were small, of limited treatment duration (3 weeks to 3 months) and short follow-up. The long-term effects of this treatment cannot be determined.
Context: 
Otitis media with effusion (“glue ear”) is the most common cause of acquired hearing loss in children, and can lead to problems of language, development and behaviour. Although there are a number of treatment option (steroids, antibiotics, decongestants, antihistamines and grommet insertion), the best treatment strategy remains controversial as the condition often resolves spontaneously within a few months. Autoinflation is a technique whereby the Eustachian tube is reopened by raising pressure in the nose, encouraging drainage of the fluid.
Review CD#: 
CD005608
PEARLS No: 
36
Date: 
November, 2007
Authored by: 
Brian R McAvoy