Wireless kit might be cheap alternative to usual treatment of ‘glue ear’ in kids

Wireless kit might be cheap alternative to usual treatment of ‘glue ear’ in kids

According to a brief research published in the online journal BMJ Development of new, a wireless kit consisting of headphones, a microphone, and an app could be a less expensive alternative to the conventional therapy for common temporary hearing loss in children, often known as "glue ear."

Parents may keep tabs on their child's hearing at home instead of taking them to the clinic, according to the study's authors, saving time and money.

Cough, cold, or an ear infection can cause temporary hearing loss in one or both ears, which is called "glue ear," or "otitis media with effusion."

Glue ear affects the hearing of one in every ten youngsters who begins school in the United Kingdom or Europe.

Early-onset hearing loss in children has been linked to a variety of developmental problems including delays in speech and language development as well as difficulties with auditory processing.

Currently available options fall far short of perfection. This little tube, known as a grommet (short for trans-esophageal tube), is used to drain fluid and maintain the eardrum open.

It's estimated that one-third of children who have grommets put in their ears may have an infection as a result. In rare situations, the grommets themselves could rupture, leaving lasting scars.

Because the condition fluctuates, hearing aids need to be adjusted at multiple audiology appointments.

Hearing aids that transmit sound directly to the cochlea (inner ear bone) by vibrating the eardrum and middle ear straight through the skull bone are also very effective. However, they are prohibitively expensive.

Cellphone sound can be transmitted right to the cochlea with bone conduction headphones intended toward bikers, which do not obscure crucial sound from traffic. These headphones are also significantly less expensive.

When used with the free Hear Glue Ear app, the researchers hoped to find out if the commercially available Bone Conduction Kit, which consists of a wireless headset and microphone, would help children and their parents manage glue ear better at home.

During the first wave of the 2020 COVID-19 epidemic in the UK, the kits and app information were delivered to the parents of 26 children who had been diagnosed with glue ear and/or were scheduled for grommet insertion.

Within three weeks of receiving the package, they completed an Otitis Media Quality of Life questionnaire to gauge how their children would fare if they had ear infections even without the kit. Over the next three months, progress was tracked using virtual or phone consultations.

In the local surgical list for grommet insertion, 82% were youngsters between the ages of 3 and 11. Their hearing loss was only minor on average, according to the tests.

Twenty households were able to use the kit right away, but the other four had to wait for a call. Four households needed additional guidance beyond the first set-up to make use of the package.

In the three months before to receiving the kit, 19 different sets of parents reported that their child's hearing was fair to bad. There were no complaints from parents who used the kit, and 24 of those parents said their child's behaviour was normal or merely "slightly below normal."

Compared with 22 out of 26 parents who said their child had trouble hearing in a group when using the kit, 23 parents stated that their child had difficulty hearing in a group 'frequently' or 'always.'

Eight percent (2) took the app with them when they went out, and twenty-six percent (7) never used it. Of the youngsters who received the package, fifteen (or 58 percent) returned it to their place of study or childcare.

One parent claimed the headset was a visual cue to others that their child required support; another parent stated the school took their child's hearing more seriously as a result. However, three schools stated that they required more support or resources in order to make effective use of the equipment.

By the year 2020, no youngsters had grommets placed into their ears. Three households stated they preferred to keep using the kit instead of getting a grommet.

Regardless of whether or not their child's hearing had improved by the end of the research, all families opted to keep the kit. Most parents were fine with remote management and believed their child had benefited as a result.

The study was short-term, had no comparator group, and only included a small number of children, according to the researchers.

They point out that treating glue ear from afar has numerous advantages, including improving children's hearing at a critical developmental time, minimising the need for parents to take their little children to clinics, and enhancing their ability to learn online.

Researchers say that using bone conduction headphones, a microphone, and the Hear Glue Ear app to treat glue ear and the hearing loss that results from it is a novel, new, and effective approach, especially for families who have limited access to audiology or ENT services, such as during the COVID-19 pandemic. The researchers write this in their paper.

According to the researchers, more large-scale studies are needed to examine the cost-efficiency and clinical effectiveness of the treatment. However, they emphasise that in many cases with glue ear, this method could eliminate the need for grommets while still allowing patients with moderate, fluctuating cases to receive early hearing assistance.