Research brief: Allergy drugs worsen otitis media

Children with persistent middle ear infections are more likely to be harmed than helped by treatment with antihistamines, according to a Cochrane review. The review looked at 15 trials including 1,516 children with otitis media with effusion given either antihistamines, decongestants, a combination of both drugs or a placebo. There was no difference between placebo and treatment groups in outcome, but 17 per cent of children given medication had side-effects compared to 6 per cent of children taking placebo (Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2006; 4).

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