07/27/2015 12:17 EDT | Updated 07/27/2016 01:12 EDT

Nasal balloon therapy helps fluid buildup in middle ear common to kids

TORONTO — A new study suggests a simple, inexpensive but slightly unorthodox treatment can help with the buildup of fluid in the middle ear that is a common complaint for young children.

British researchers studied whether having affected children inflate a balloon by blowing air through their nostrils helped re-establish the proper pressure in the middle ear.

Their study suggests the treatment helps some children and is more beneficial than often used drugs such as antibiotics and decongestants which have been shown not to work for this condition. 

Lead author Dr. Ian Williamson says wider use of the technique may also lead to fewer surgeries to insert drainage tubes in the ears of affected children.

The condition is known as glue ear in Britain, but may be more commonly called otitis media with effusion in Canada.

When the eustachian tubes don't work properly, fluid builds up in the middle ear and can lead to hearing and speech problems in affected children.

The study is published in this week's issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Helen Branswell, The Canadian Press