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What is glue ear?

With no ventilation, the lining of the middle ear starts to produce fluid, and in-turn OME. In children the Eustachian tube is not as wide or as vertical as in adults, so they are more prone to blockage. Patients with OME will normally present in the clinic as a result of parental or school concern. On taking a history, parents may complain that their child misunderstands instructions, asks for things to be repeated, or is not developing speech as expected. Parents may sometimes be unaware of a problem, and school may have highlighted hearing as an issue in class, or the child may have failed a school hearing screening test.

OME can present with symptoms similar to those seen in other conditions, such as behaviour problems, poor progress at school or speech and language problems. It is therefore important that OME is not overlooked and that Otoscopy is carried out. When performing Otoscopy identification of abnormalities in the shape of the tympanic membrane TM is a good indicator of OME.

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  3. A Balloon to Treat Glue Ear, a Common Childhood Problem.

The drum may be bulging or retracted inwards. If OME is present the drum can look yellow or darker than normal with no light reflex, also fluid bubbles can sometimes be seen behind the drum.

Ear infections and glue ear

It is important to note that in some cases OME can be very difficult to identify through Otoscopy due to only slight changes in the TM appearance. If OME is suspected further tests should be carried out with an audiologist to confirm diagnosis and assess impact on hearing levels. Audiological tests will include Pure Tone Audiometry PTA to assess the extent of hearing loss, and tympanometry to measure middle ear function. The following case study gives an example of how both these tests are used to identify OME, and how these tests should be interpreted.

EE also speaks loudly and has recently shown signs of frustration and anxiety at nursery. Otoscopy indicated slightly reddening of the eardrum, with a retraction of the TM. EE was thought to have possible glue ear and referred for audiological testing. Audiological testing consisted of pure tone audiometry and tympanometry.

PTA indicated a bilateral mild conductive hearing loss Fig 3 and tympanometry showed a type B flat tympanogram Fig 4. Please see Fig 1 and Fig 2 for comparison against normal results.

Xylitol is a plant-based product, which is usually used as a sweetener in food. Xylitol has been shown to inhibit the type of bacteria that can be a cause of tooth decay and ear infections. Clinical trials have shown that xylitol-based chewing gum, when used regularly, may reduce ear infections and glue ear. In the UK, xylitol can be found in small amounts in some types of chewing gum, children's vitamins and toothpaste. Other xylitol products currently available in the United States include granules, nasal sprays and sweets. A nasal spray containing xylitol has been developed and is available from health food and vitamins and supplements suppliers and online.

There is also a US website www. If the glue ear persists and leads to children experiencing mild hearing loss, research shows that it can have a major impact on their development, but fortunately, there are lots of things that schools can do to support children with mild hearing loss. The law Children and Families Act requires that schools in England take steps to support children with medical conditions. Schools must also follow government guidance called Supporting children with medical conditions. This guidance requires schools to make sure that:. The Welsh Government has produced guidance for schools on children with medical conditions.

Schools in Scotland are required to provide support for these children, even if this support is only needed for a short while. The Enquire website has more information on additional support for learning and on your rights in this area. Schools and other education providers should provide special or additional educational support. Find out more about getting additional support at school. This means that schools and other education providers in England, Scotland and Wales must ensure they take steps to prevent discrimination and also proactively provide support to counter any disadvantage that your child may experience.

To find out more information on disability legislation in Northern Ireland call the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland on 90 or visit their website. The build-up of fluid in the middle ear can expand during take-off and, more commonly, landing due to changes in cabin pressure, causing discomfort.

The risk is the fluid expands so much the eardrum perforates; if this happens a doctor should prescribe antibiotics but there is normally no long-term damage. Parents Peter and Rachel discuss the treatment options for glue ear they chose for their daughter, Libby, and how we helped them make the right decisions for their family. Share Facebook Twitter linkedin Email.

Glue ear. Photo: Long-term glue ear can affect a child's hearing and speech development. What is glue ear? Glue ear can affect one or both ears. What causes glue ear? Parents, Scott and Siobhan, talk to us about what it's like for their son, Bayley, to have a cleft palate, his glue ear operation and hearing loss in our video.

Does my child have glue ear? Spot the signs of glue ear Changes in behaviour. Becoming tired. A lack of concentration.

Preferring to play alone. Not responding when called. What should I do if I think my child has glue ear? How do they test for glue ear? Allergies Research suggests that allergy may be related to persistent glue ear in some children. Grommets Grommets are tiny plastic tubes that are put in the eardrum.

Glue ear is common in young children.

Try to avoid your child diving or jumping into the water as this increases the outside pressure and forces water through the grommet into the middle ear. Use earplugs and neoprene headbands, such as www. Try to get your child to wear a swimming cap. Avoid your child swimming in lakes or non-chlorinated pools. The water in these places usually has a high bacteria count and infection is more likely to occur. Soapy water is able to slip more easily through the grommet into the middle ear.

If the water is dirty it will infect it. With your child sitting upright in the bath, wash their hair first before body washing.

Glue ear | healthdirect

Tilt their head back and rinse with clean water, then apply a shower cap. It usually lasts for a few months and then gets better on its own without treatment. Around eight out of 10 children have glue ear at least once by the time they reach the age of Your child is most likely to get it between the ages of two and five. Glue ear usually gets better over a few months and most children will no longer have it after a year. For a few children it carries on longer and can cause hearing loss , which can affect their education, language development and behaviour. Treatment is generally the same as for children. With our GP services, we aim to give you an appointment the same day, subject to availability. Sometimes the symptoms of glue ear can be hard to spot, especially if your child is very young.

The most common symptom is hearing loss. You might see this as some of the following behaviour. Some children have repeated ear infections, coughs and colds before they get glue ear. Their listening skills can also be affected and these things together can affect their progress at nursery or school.