Glue ear is a common childhood condition where the middle ear becomes filled with fluid. This medical condition predominantly occurs in children although it can develop at any age and can affect one or both ears. The symptoms in the child may include:
• Dulled hearing
• Problems with speech, language or social interaction
• Clumsiness or balance problems
• Appearing to have 'selective hearing' - for example, disobeying verbal instructions
• Turning up the volume on the television, or radio, or often saying 'what' or ‘uh’? a lot
• In the case of babies, being less responsive to sounds
HOW IS GLUE EAR DIAGNOSED?
A diagnosis of glue ear can usually be confirmed by using an instrument called an otoscope. Further tests are usually only required if your child's symptoms persist for more than three months. The tests will often be carried out at your local ear, nose and throat (ENT) department and include:
• audiometry – to assess the extent of your child's hearing loss
• tympanometry – to assess the flexibility of the eardrum and the bones in the middle ear
HOW IS GLUE EAR TREATED?
In most cases, the condition will treat on its own usually within 3 months. In some cases of severe fluid accumulation, a surgery may be performed to clear the fluid by inserting ventilation tubes.
DID YOU KNOW?
There are a number of complications the child may develop as a result of having glue ear or surgery to treat the condition. Many of these problems can either be treated or they improve quickly on their own. The other complication may include:
• Delayed speech and language development
• Ear infection
• Thickening of the eardrum
• Perforated eardrum