Author(s): Griffin G, Flynn CA
Otitis media with effusion (OME), also known as glue ear or serous otitis media, is a condition in which there is fluid persisting in the middle ear. Many treatments have been suggested. This review summarizes the studies using antihistamines, decongestants or a combination of antihistamines and decongestants and finds no benefit for any of the short or long-term outcomes including resolution of the fluid, hearing problems or the necessity of additional referral to specialists. Further, using these medications causes significant side effects, such as gastrointestinal upset, irritability, drowsiness or dizziness, in approximately 10% of patients. Therefore antihistamines, decongestants or antihistamine/decongestant combinations are not recommended treatments for OME. Watchful waiting is the best approach with consideration of referral for evaluation by an ENT consultant if symptoms persist beyond 12 weeks.
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