Inclusion Criteria

  • Aged 2-8 years
  • Had symptoms of hearing loss attributable to OME for at least 3 months (or had audiometry proven hearing loss for at least 3 months),
  • Diagnosis of bilateral OME made in an ENT clinic on the day of recruitment or during the preceding week,
  • Audiometry confirming hearing loss of more than 20 dBHL averaged within the frequencies of 0.5, 1, 2, and 4 KHz in both ears by pure tone audiometry ear specific insert visual reinforcement audiometry (VRA) or ear specific play audiometry, or hearing loss of more than 25 dBHL averaged within the frequencies of 0.5, 1, 2, and 4 KHz by soundfield VRA or soundfield performance/play audiometry in the better hearing ear, on the day of recruitment or in the preceding 14 days,
  • First time in the OSTRICH trial,
  • Parent/carer able to understand and give informed consent.

Exclusion Criteria


  • Is currently involved in another CTIMP or have participated in a CTIMP during the last 4 months,
  • Has current systemic infection or ear infection,
  • Has cleft palate, Down’s syndrome, diabetes mellitus, Kartagener’s or Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia,
  • Has renal failure, hypertension or congestive heart failure,
  • Has confirmed, major developmental difficulties (e.g. are tube fed, have chromosomal abnormalities),
  • Taken oral steroids in the preceding four weeks,
  • Has had a live vaccine in the preceding four weeks if under 3 years old,
  • Has a condition that increases their risk of adverse effects from oral steroids (i.e. on treatment likely to modify the immune system or who are immunocompromised, such as undergoing cancer treatment),
  • Been in close contact with someone known or suspected to have Varicella (chicken pox) or active Zoster (Shingles) during the three weeks prior to recruitment and have no prior history of Varicella infection or immunisation,
  • Existing known sensory hearing loss,
  • Child already has grommets (ventilation tubes)
  • On a waiting list for grommet surgery and anticipate having surgery within 5 weeks and are unwilling to delay it.


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