Glue ear is a fairly common condition in young children and is caused by a build-up of fluid in the middle ear – the area just behind the eardrum.
Caused by the Eustachian tube’s inability to drain away mucus leading to a build-up, symptoms include mild to moderate loss of hearing and in most cases it usually resolves within three months – after a bit of watching and waiting.
However, as with a lot of illnesses, it can develop into something more serious and it is important you are aware of both the symptoms and treatment options available.
1. The following symptoms can indicate reduced hearing:
- Difficulty hearing people far away
- Difficulty hearing people speaking softly
- Unusually tired
- Unaware of background noise – e.g can’t hear you when they are focussed on the TV
- Difficulties with communication
- Problems with balance
- Mild ear pain
Treatment involves monitoring your child for up to three months as it generally clears up within this time frame – there is no medication available which shortens this time.
However, even if fluid is still present after three months it doesn’t automatically mean your little one will be given any form of treatment.
Treatment will only be given in the following incidences:
- It is affecting both ears
- It is affecting their speech, language or learning development
- Your child has visual impairments
So what kind of treatments are available?
1. Grommets – a small tube inserted in the eardrum to drain fluid
2. Autoinflation – a special balloon up the child’s nose will help expand the Eustachian tube and drain away any fluid
While kids may experience a delay in their speech and language development, particularly if they have glue ear for a long period of time, it should rectify itself once they are better.