* Monitor the ears for signs of acute infection. As well as effusion, the sufferer will have fever, pain, irritability and poor appetite, among others. The ear will be very red and hot, with a bulging eardrum; the child may often tug at the infected ear. These infections can spread if left untreated, and may be one occasion when antibiotics are warranted.
* Breastfeed your infant for as long as you can. Breastfeeding for longer lowers the risk of your child contracting OM (Scand J Plast Reconstr Surg Hand Surg, 2002; 36: 9-15).
* Consider keeping your child at home during the preschool years. Studies have shown that children in child care outside the home - whether it's for four or 40 hours a week - have a 50 per cent greater chance of repeated ear infections than those cared for at home, especially after one bout of infection. If this is not practical, then consider keeping your child at home during the first three months after an acute attack, as this will considerably reduce the risk of OM becoming a chronic condition (Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg, 1993; 119: 444-9).
* Investigate food allergies with the use of bioresonance and/or blood tests to establish whether food allergies or intolerance are causing the condition.
* Eliminate allergy-causing foods from the diet. In one study where seven children underwent a food-elimination diet instead of having grommets fitted, the OM resolved itself without any loss of hearing or recurrence of the infection in every case. The 14 other children in the trial who were treated by allergy immunotherapy experienced a 65 per cent success rate (Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg, 1990; 102: 664-9). Take special care to eliminate any foods that are associated with the formation of mucus, such as milk and white sugar.
* Make sure your child drinks plenty of water - approximately one pint per foot of height per day. Dehydration may worsen glue ear by allowing the mucus to become thicker.
* Stop smoking, and keep your child away from smoky environments. A child living in a home where a parent smokes is 50 per cent more likely to develop glue ear.
* Try essential oils. Chamomile and lavender oils massaged into the area around the ear may help ease the pain in the early stages. Lavender-oil inhalations may help open the eustachian tube (the passageway connecting the middle ear with the nose and throat), and allow the catarrh to drain.
* Try homoeopathy. Remedies such as Silica and Belladonna can be effective for ear infections, while Allium sativa can ease the catarrh associated with glue ear.
* Osteopathy may offer a long-term solution for acute otitis media. In one study, children receiving osteopathy suffered fewer attacks of AOM than those who received the standard treatment (Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med, 2003; 157: 861-6).