Glue ear is a condition that primarily that affects children. It refers to the collection of fluid in a child’s middle ear. During this time, the child’s hearing will be temporarily affected.
Typically, this condition affects children after they experience an ear infection or a blockage that affects the eustachian tube, the passage connecting the pharynx to the cavity of the middle ear.
Often the condition may go away on its own. But some cases may require glue ear treatment and even surgery. Medically, Glue ear is also known by its other name – Otitis media with effusion (OME).
Glue ear affects children and is a common occurrence. This condition is triggered when non-infected fluid builds up in the middle ear, the space behind the eardrum, of a child. This condition can affect one or both ears.
Glue ear typically occurs in babies and children under six years old. However, there are cases when it also affects adults.
Glue ear and hearing loss tend to be synonymous. This is because, while hearing loss might be temporary, there are cases where it can prolong and affect the quality of long-term hearing.
Watch out for the following glue ear symptoms.
- One of the most prominent glue ear symptoms is loss of hearing, which may affect one or both ears. The quality of sound is impacted, and sounds may appear muffled.
- Prolonged hearing loss can lead to delayed speech and language development in children. They may struggle with financing words correctly.
- One may experience pain in the ear.
- It can also result in a condition known as tinnitus, which is essentially a continuous buzzing sound in the ears.
- The ears may also be subjected to pressure or popping during the process of swallowing.
- One may feel excessively sleepy.
- The condition may reduce one’s ability to concentrate and stay focused on other activities.
- Children may want to play alone as they are unable to hear and interact with others properly.
- They may not respond when called due to the inability to hear.
- They speak louder and want to turn up sounds, such as the television for music.
Glue ear symptoms in adults are similar. Make sure the condition does not prolong, as it can impact the condition of hearing.
There are several causes of glue ear.
- Most prominently, glue ear can occur after an ear infection.
- It can also occur due to a blockage of the eustachian tubes, which can be caused due to colds, flu, allergies, enlarged adenoids, irritants such as exposure to smoking, genetic conditions like down syndrome, cleft palate, chronic acid reflux, imbalanced air pressure when flying, or going under water.
- It is also advisable to avoid feeding babies when they are lying down, as that can also cause glue ear.
When the symptoms are observed for an extended period, it is best to consult a healthcare provider as soon as possible. It is best to visit an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctor. They will conduct several tests and diagnose the underlying causes before suggesting treatment.
- The tympanometry test examines the movement of the eardrums by placing a device with a microphone and a sound source inside the ear canal. The eardrums do not tend to move if the fluid is in the ear. The movement is tracked in a graph known as a tympanogram.
- A hearing test may also be conducted to understand the level to which the fluid has affected hearing loss.
The prescribed glue ear treatment may be as follows.
- The healthcare provider may prescribe antibiotics if the fluid buildup is due to an ear infection.
- For glue ear removal, the healthcare provider will perform a myringotomy, a surgery that involves making a small incision in the eardrum to drain out the fluid physically. They may place an ear tube to help balance the pressure in the middle ear. Typically, the tube falls out on its own.
- If the cause of blockage is due to enlarged adenoids, the healthcare provider may perform an adenoidectomy to remove the affected adenoids. They usually perform it alongside the myringotomy.
- The ENT specialist may recommend using a hearing aid to cope with temporary hearing loss. This is an option when the specialist determines that the glue ear will heal on its own.
With regards to glue ear and swimming, it is advisable to wait for the infection or blockage to be healed.
Glue ear is a common condition occurring in children. Parents are advised to reach out to the ENT specialist as soon as possible when they observe glue ear symptoms. Delays can prolong the condition and impact long-term hearing.
To seek the best diagnosis and treatment for glue ear, visit the CK Birla Hospital. We have a highly specialised ENT department that offers a full spectrum of services, and our state-of-the-art equipment for testing and diagnosis is led by seasoned ENT specialists. Book an appointment with Dr Anil Kumar now.