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Tympanometry is not a hearing test and a 'pass' on this test does not necessarily mean that your child can hear well - it just means that it is unlikely they have glue ear at the time of the test.


The best treatment for glue ear is time. In most children, episodes of glue ear get better without treatment. For this reason, your family doctor may simply recommend regular checkups for up to 3 months so they can examine your child's ears. If your child has fluid in the middle ear for more than 3 months, there are some treatment options.

Ear infections, earache and glue ear

If your child's hearing and development are normal, your doctor may recommend this option. As your child gets older, they are less likely to have glue ear. This is because their eustachian tubes mature to work naturally. The eustachian tubes connect the middle ear of each ear to the back of the nose. Some children with glue ear may need grommets - see the page on grommets tympanostomy or ventilation tubes.

If your child does need grommets, your family doctor may recommend an appointment with an ENT ear, nose and throat specialist. Longer courses of antibiotics have been used in the past as treatment for glue ear. But, antibiotics only have a small temporary effect on clearing fluid from the middle ear. Because of this and concerns about the complications of long courses of antibiotics including the development of antibiotic resistance, allergic reactions, diarrhoea and thrush , they are no longer a common treatment for glue ear.

If your child has glue ear they may not be able to hear you. Remember to speak slowly and clearly to your child. Try to make sure your child can see your face when you are speaking to them and try to reduce background noise. It can be helpful to get their attention before you speak to them. Let your child's teachers know that they may also need to get your child's attention before speaking, and that your child may need to sit at the front of the class to hear well.

Glue ear is common and teachers are usually aware of the importance of making sure children hear well. Some areas have mobile children's ear clinics which visit schools and early childhood education centres. If your area has a mobile clinic, you could also talk to one of the ear nurse specialists. They are specially trained to diagnose, treat, monitor and refer for children with middle ear problems. If your child has glue ear for more than 3 months or repeated episodes of glue ear, they should see an ENT ear, nose and throat specialist.

The specialist may arrange a hearing test for your child. If your child has had grommets and continues to have hearing or developmental issues, they may need a hearing test. They may also need to see a specialist again. Please note: Permission to copy KidsHealth content, with acknowledgement, does not extend to Dr Peter Allen's artwork on this page. Free health advice www. Content endorsed by Paediatric Society of NZ. Supported by Ministry of Health NZ. Supported by Starship Foundation. This page last reviewed 15 October Email us your feedback.

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  • Glue ear. Key points to remember about glue ear Always see a doctor if your are worried about your child's hearing. For more information about the programme and the importance of screening for your baby. On this page. Printer-friendly version. Related content Ear infections.

    Hearing and vision checks for babies. With well-motivated older children who can use the device, it may be worth a try. It is not thought to cause any side-effects or problems. A small operation may be advised by an ear specialist if your child's glue ear persists, or is severe. This involves inserting small tubes called grommets see below. The operation isn't done as often as it used to be because it is now realised that most cases of glue ear get better without treatment.

    Also there isn't a lot of evidence that surgery makes much difference to a child's speech or language development. Hearing aids are an option instead of an operation to insert grommets in children with hearing loss who have glue ear in both ears. The hearing aids would usually only be used for the time until the glue ear clears away. You and your child should have an opportunity to discuss this option with the specialist and your views should be taken into account. The anxiety caused to some children by having to wear aids sometimes outweighs the benefits.

    The operation is usually done as a day case, and usually an overnight stay in hospital is not needed. Your child will need to be put to sleep for a short time have a general anaesthetic. The operation involves making a tiny cut about mm in the eardrum, whilst the child is under anaesthetic. The fluid is drained and a ventilation tube grommet is then usually inserted. A grommet is like a tiny pipe that is put across the eardrum. The grommet lets air get into the middle ear. Hearing improves immediately. This improvement in hearing only lasts as long as the grommet stays in place. Grommets normally fall out of the ear as the eardrum grows, usually after months.

    Glue ear | healthdirect

    The grommet is so small that you probably won't notice it. By this time the glue ear has often gone away. The hole in the eardrum made for the grommet normally heals quickly when the grommet falls out. Sometimes grommets need to be put in on more than one occasion if glue ear returns recurs. Most children have no problems after surgery. Discharge and infection are the most common complications. Rarely, a condition called tympanosclerosis occurs in which a chalky sort of substance develops in the eardrum. It's not certain whether this causes any long-term problems.

    A small hole perforation of the eardrum occasionally persists in the eardrum after the grommet has come out. This usually heals without treatment but occasionally a small operation is needed to fix it. Minor damage and scarring to the eardrum may occur but this is unlikely to cause any problems. All general anaesthetics carry a risk, but only a very tiny one. Your anaesthetist will explain this to you. Children with grommets can go swimming but should avoid diving. Swimming caps and earplugs are not necessary. You should avoid ducking your child's head in soapy water.

    Children with grommets do not need to avoid flying in an aeroplane. If anything, they will have less pain with taking off and landing as the pressure between the middle and outer ear will be more equal. The main thing is to be aware that your child will have dulled hearing until the condition goes away or is treated.

    The following are some tips:. Even after an episode of glue ear has cleared up, remember the problem may return for a while in the future. In particular, after a cold or after an ear infection. All children should have a routine hearing test either shortly after birth or aged about months.

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    However, most cases of glue ear develop in children aged years. Therefore, hearing may have been fine at the routine hearing test but then become dulled at a later time. See a doctor if you suspect your child has dulled hearing at any age. As children grow older, problems with glue ear usually go away. This is because the Eustachian tube widens and the drainage of the middle ear improves. In general, the older the child, the less likely that fluid will build up in the middle ear. Also, in older children, any fluid that does build up after a cold is likely to clear quickly.

    Glue ear rarely continues persists in children over the age of 8. In nearly all cases, once the fluid has gone, hearing returns to normal. Rarely, some adults are troubled with glue ear. Did you find this information useful? We'd love to send you our articles and latest news by email, giving you the best opportunity to stay up to date with expert written health and lifestyle content.

    By clicking 'Subscribe' you agree to our Terms and conditions and Privacy policy. Thanks for your feedback. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. Otovent nasal balloon for otitis media with effusion. Babies and toddlers. View online Download PDF. Status: Hard copies currently out of stock.

    Information on ear infections, earache and glue ear in children, including what these conditions are, how to treat them, and how to prevent them. This combines information from four resources HE, , and into one pamphlet. What are ear infections, earache and glue ear? Ear infections and earache Ear infections are when a cold or infection spreads up the small tubes Eustachian tubes that connect the ear to the back of the nose and throat. The tubes get blocked with infected fluid pus , which spreads into the middle ear and puts pressure on the eardrum.

    The eardrum bulges out and causes a painful earache. A normal ear An infected ear How can I tell if my baby or child has an ear infection or an earache? Older children will tell you if their ear hurts, and they may not be able to hear properly. Treating ear infections and earaches Medicine for the pain An earache is painful. Giving antibiotics Not all ear infections need antibiotics. Ears usually stop hurting before the infection is properly better, so if your doctor has prescribed a course of antibiotics: give the antibiotics exactly as the doctor or pharmacist told you keep giving your baby or child the antibiotics until they are finished.

    Glue ear Glue ear is a condition where the middle ear, which normally contains air, is filled with a glue-like fluid. Glue ear How can I tell if my baby or child has glue ear? In babies, the signs might be: not showing interest in sounds crying, fretting, not sleeping unusual or unsettled behaviour. In toddlers and young children, the signs might be: not listening difficult behaviour often having an earache snoring and breathing through the mouth.

    Once the air can get back into the middle ear, hearing usually returns to normal. An ear with grommets Grommets Children with grommets can bath and shower as usual. How can I help my child with glue ear? Look at your child when you speak, and speak slowly, clearly and slightly louder than normal. If your child goes to school or preschool, tell the teacher about their glue ear and hearing problems.

    Myringotomy for Ear Infection

    The teacher can help by seating your child at the front of the class.