Issue 13
Monday, 14 August 2017
Charles Darwin University
E-news
Researchers are implementing a clinical trial to find the most effective treatment for a severe ear disease
Researchers are implementing a clinical trial to find the most effective treatment for a severe ear disease

Researchers tackle ear disease

By Paul Dale

Menzies School of Health research is implementing a clinical trial to find the most effective treatment for a severe ear disease that affects thousands of children in remote Northern Territory communities. 

The I HEAR BETA Study is a randomised controlled trial comparing current standard treatment with combinations of antiseptic ear washes and oral antibiotics for “runny ears”.  

Runny ears are caused by bacteria that live in the nose that can cause ruptured ear drums and pus chronically discharging from the ears.

Professor Peter Morris, who is leading the study, said otitis media was an important health problem affecting the hearing of up to 80 per cent of remote Northern Territory Aboriginal children.

“Current treatment of daily antibiotic ear drops is only effective for about a third of patients,” Professor Morris said.  

“When the condition continues, hearing loss persists with long-term implications for educational, social and behavioural problems.”

More than 200 children aged up to 17 years of age, with runny ears, have been enrolled in the study so far.

Families are supported with regular phone calls from the Darwin-based research nurses and by locally trained researchers based in the communities who visit the families.

The study will continue until the end of 2018 and the results of the trial will become the best available evidence to guide the medical treatment of children with runny ears.