Unless there are also signs of an infection, most health care providers will not treat OME at first. Instead, they will recheck the problem in 2 - 3 months.
Some children who have had repeat ear infections may receive a smaller, daily dose of antibiotics to prevent new infections.
Certain changes may help clear up the fluid behind the eardrum:
- Avoiding cigarette smoke
- Encouraging breastfeeding for infants
- Treating allergies by staying away from triggers (such as dust). Older children may be given allergy medications.
Most often the fluid will clear on its own. You doctor may suggest waiting and watching to see if the condition worsens.
If the fluid is still present after 6 weeks, treatment might include:
- Further observation
- A hearing test
- A single trial of antibiotics (if not given earlier)
If the fluid is still present at 8 - 12 weeks, antibiotics may be tried, although they are not always helpful.
At some point, the child's hearing should be tested.
If there is significant hearing loss (> 20 decibels), antibiotics or ear tubes might be appropriate.
If the fluid is still present after 4 - 6 months, tubes are probably needed, even if there is no significant hearing loss.
Sometimes the adenoids must be removed to restore proper functioning of the Eustachian tube.