What is Glue Ear?
Glue ear or Middle ear effusion is the most common cause of hearing impairment in children and can affect one or both ears. Glue ear develops when the middle ear (behind the eardrum) becomes filled with sticky fluid due to the Eustachian tube becoming blocked at the back sinuses. This stops children being able to equalise the pressure behind the eardrum causing pressure to build up. This pressure is what causes the fluid to develop.
With fluid blocking the middle ear, it becomes harder for sound to pass through to the inner ear, making quieter sounds difficult to hear.
Management of glue ear
The advice regarding management of this condition is based up to the guidance published by NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence). As Hearing loss, due to glue ear is often temporary there is a recommended watch and wait a period of 3 months. After this time hearing is reassessed and if a significant bilateral hearing loss is persistent then options for management would be discussed. Any decision would be made collaboratively between Parents or Carers and the audiologist. Depending on many factors it may be beneficial to be referred to an ENT consultant to discuss whether having grommets inserted would be the best way to manage the glue ear. This involves putting a small ventilation tube into the eardrum and has to be done under general anaesthetic. Fitting of temporary hearing aids is also a suitable option. There are different types of hearing aids and what is the most appropriate type will be discussed. However, in a large number of cases it is more appropriate to monitor their hearing and make adaptions to the home and school environment to enable the child to hear more effectively.
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