Glue ear treatment is used to address glue ear - also known as adhesive otitis media - which is a condition that involves the middle part of the ear filling up with fluid. The fluid can become sticky, or glue-like, and can become infected in the middle ear, as well as make it harder to hear. Fluid in the middle ear makes movement of the eardrum and middle ear bones sluggish leading to the hearing loss.
What are the symptoms of glue ear?
Glue ear has been seen to be more prevalent in children than adults, however, the symptoms are similar for both. Glue ear symptoms can include; difficulty hearing, talking louder than usual, asking people to repeat what they are saying, inability to hear noises from a long distance, feeling the need to turn up the volume on a TV or smartphone, and a buzzing or ringing in the ears, balance problems/falling over in children, poor speech development, poor school performance, behavioural problems or ear pain (usually worse at night), .
Can glue ear go away without treatment?
Yes it can. We would typically advise you to wait and see if the symptoms of glue ear go away on their own. Glue ear often clears up in less than three months in at least 50% of people. While you are waiting for symptoms to improve, a technique known as autoinflation - which involves blowing into a special balloon with one nostril - can help fluid to drain from the ear.
What do I do if my glue ear hasn’t gone away naturally?
For cases in which symptoms have not gone away after three months, chronic glue ear may be diagnosed. We will detail glue ear treatment options below.
How does glue ear treatment work?
If glue ear hasn’t cleared up after a 3-month period of watchful waiting, active treatment is usually recommended particularly in children who have symptoms. Active treatment can either be the use of a hearing aid or surgery. Some parents do not like hearing aids for their children although they are non-invasive. Surgery involves the insertion of a grommet. A grommet keeps the communication between the middle ear and the outer ear open such that there can be no further fluid build up. Research has shown that in children above the age of three, removing the adenoids (adenoidectomy) adds to the benefit of inserting grommets and this therefore sometimes advised in older children. Mr Olarinde will carefully discuss the options with you if your child has persistent glue ear.
Can glue ear be prevented?
Glue ear can be hard to prevent, particularly in children. This is partly because the underlying cause of glue ear is not yet completely understood. However, there are certain known risk factors, such as exposure to tobacco smoke, seasonal allergies and in children who attend nurseries. Babies which are bottle-fed are understood to be at a higher risk of developing glue ear than those which are breastfed.