Glue ear is defined as a condition where the middle region of the ear canal is filled with fluid. The condition can lead to brief hearing loss. In most cases, it settles around 3 months, but a doctor should be seen if there are hearing issues.
What are the signs?
The usual indication of glue ear is brief hearing loss. The condition can involve 2 ears at once.
The other signs that might be present include the following:
- Ear pain
The condition is prevalent among children but adults with the condition experience the same symptoms.
How is it managed
Glue ear does not always require treatment. The doctor will wait and see if the signs settle on their own. This is the approach since there is no medication for the condition and often settles on its own after 3 months.
A child is monitored for up to a year in case the symptoms change or become worse. The doctor might suggest auto-inflation while waiting for the symptoms to improve. This procedure allows the fluid in the ear to drain either by blowing up a special balloon with one nostril at a time or swallowing while keeping the nostrils closed. The procedure is carried out several times throughout the day, but not ideal for children below 3 years old.
A child might be referred to a specialist if:
- The symptoms of glue ear affect development and learning
- There is significant hearing loss before glue ear
- The child has been identified with Down’s syndrome or cleft lip or palate
The main treatment options are brief hearing aids or grommets. In uncommon instances, surgery might be suggested to remove some of the glands at the rear part of the nose.