A glue ear where the middle ear fills with glue-like fluid instead of air. This causes diminished hearing. In most circumstances it disappears without any treatment. An operation to clear the fluid and inserting grommets may be considered, if glue ear continues.
The reason is perhaps due to the Eustachian tube dysfunction.This leads on to a negative pressure in the middle ear leading on to glue formation. Certain children after a cough or cold can develop glue ear. In the middle ear, mucus accumulation occurs, which may not drain well down the Eustachian tube.
Glue ear is caused by blockage of a small tube in the ear, called the Eustachian tube. When fluid is trapped inside this tube, it slowly gets thicker. Glue ear can happen after repeated middle ear infections. Children living with smokers are more likely to get glue ear than those who don’t. Using a dummy for long periods can make things worse.
The main symptom linked with glue ear is dull hearing, which ranges from a small muffle to moderate deafness in both the ears.
Possible symptoms obvious in children with glue ear children:
- Dulled hearing.
- Speech, language or social communication problems.
- Ineptness or balance difficulties.
Glue ear is not an infection, but usually follows one or more middle ear infections. Signs and symptoms of glue ear can include:
- problems hearing – children may want to have things repeated, talk loudly or have the television up loud. Parents or teachers may notice this, especially in noisy places such as classrooms. In smaller children, hearing difficulties may delay or stall their language development.
- some pressure or pain in the ear
- irritability or problems sleeping
- problems with balance.
- Antibiotics are not often used to treat middle ear infections, as they are often caused by a virus. Antibiotics do not treat viruses. In very young or very unwell children, the GP may prescribe a short course of antibiotics if there’s risk of bacterial infection.
- Outer ear infections always need treatment with antibiotic drops.