Glue Ear

Glue ear is an ear condition that is quite common in infants and young children. Glue ear occurs when the middle ear fills with a thick, sticky glue like fluid instead of air.

Children with glue ear will display signs of deafness or ‘selective hearing’.

Glue ear can occur after repeated ear infections and children living with smokers are more prone to suffer glue ear as well.  If left untreated it can lead to permanent hearing loss or speech difficulties.

Children and infants are more at risk of glue ear because the small tube in the ear called the Eustachian tube is small in size and can become blocked more easily than in an adult.

If you have a child who suffers from allergies, the risk of developing glue ear is increased because of the inflammation and swelling of the Eustachian tube from an allergic reaction.

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If your child has enlarged or infected adenoids, which is lymphoid tissue, similar to your tonsils, at the back of the nose and throat, they are also at an increased risk of suffering from glue ear due the the adenoids blocking the Eustachian tubes.

If your child or infant suffers from glue ear they may suffer from a few different symptoms such as deafness or not responding to sound. They may feel pain or pressure in the ear and be irritable.

Sometimes you may think your child is just being naughty and not listening to you.

Glue ear is not always easily diagnosed.  Sometimes there is a large build up wax and debris from past infections. We look into you child’s ear using an operating microscope. This gives us the best possible view of the middle ear and ear drum.  We will also organise for an audiogram or hearing test and a tympanogram which checks how flexible the eardrum is under pressure. All this is done in our rooms.

Treatment and management of Glue Ear

We may watch and wait. If there is an allergic component to the glue ear, diet may be changed and anti-allergic medications may be prescribed.  Sometimes we may need to prescribe a course of antibiotics if the infection persists.

Surgery is our last resort but certainly considered if required. This involves a surgical procedure called a myringotomy. A small incision is made in the ear drum to help the fluid drain. Grommets, which are tiny tubes are then inserted into the incision which allows air to flow in and out.  If the adenoids are large and obstructive we will recommend an adenoidectomy. This is a surgical procedure where the adenoids are removed.

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It can be distressing to see your child in pain or discomfort and not at their best, and we are here to help you. A visit with Dr Katzen can put your mind at ease and implement a means of treatment for your child.