What is a glue ear?
Glue ear may cause temporary hearing loss. So, if your child has glue ear, he or she might not be able to hear you well. It is basically a build-up of sticky fluid in middle ear. This fluid generally blocks the middle ear and that makes harder for noises and sounds to pass through the inner ear resulting in hearing problems. Glue ear is the most common illness that a child experiences. In fact most of the children experience glue ear. It is a very common illness in young children under five years of age. However, it even affects older children and it can continue to be a problem with a child as he or she grows up.
Causes of glue ear
We don’t know the exact cause of glue ear. But there are a number of things, which increases the risk. These include colds and flu, ear infections, passive smoking and allergies. Children with palate and cleft lip or with conditions like Down’s syndrome are more likely to experience glue ear because these are the conditions, which can have an impact on the Eustachian tube.
What should you do?
The first thing that you should do as a parent is look out for the following signs, which show that a child is having a glue ear. To find that out see whether your child:
- Ignores you when you call him or her?
- Have difficulty in concentrating?
- Have problems keeping up with the conversations?
- Have difficulty in working out where the sounds are coming from?
- Get ear infections quite often?
- Have problems understanding what the teachers are saying in school?
If your child shows these signs, take him or her see a doctor as quick as possible. The doctor will check the ears and tell you if he or she has a glue ear. Glue ear actually happens because of bad cold and often clears up by itself when cold is gone. But sometimes the child experiences severe pain in the ears and other signs of infection like fever. In that case, the doctor prescribes antibiotics. But most of the time the doctors wait to see if the glue clears up by itself without any treatment before they refer your child to an audiologist.
An audiologist generally conducts a paediatric hearing test to check the hearing and look for the signs of fluid in middle ear. They perform tests for checking the eardrum of the child. After the initial tests, they monitor the glue ear with repeated tests after three months again. If they see no signs of improvement, they offer the child with temporary hearing aids or ear tubes.
Parents should never ignore glue ear or ear infections of their children. If they go untreated for a long time, a permanent damage to the ear or permanent hearing loss may be caused.