What Is Glue Ear?

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Hearing problems are one of the symptoms of FACS and affects a lot of the children diagnosed with it.  It is also one of the most common childhood illnesses.

Most children under the age of 5 are the largest group affected, and for some children, particularly with FACS children can persist into their teenage years and beyond.  Glue ear can cause temporary Deafness, Delayed speech development in young children and affect the child’s behaviour and their educational progress.

Glue ear is often linked with ear infections and can sometimes go unnoticed.  It can affect a child’s behaviour with them becoming tired and frustrated, have lack of concentration, preferring to play alone and sometimes not responding when you talk to the child.  Unfortunately these signs can also be mistaken for stubbornness, the child being rude or “naughty”.  As a result the child may sometimes be labelled as “different”.

If a child’s hearing loss goes on for a while, like it did with Erin, it can affect their speech and even the way they write words down (which you can see hugely)

For ears to work the middle ear needs to be kept full of air.  A tube in the ear called the Eustachian Tube runs from the middle ear to the back of the throat and air travels through this.  If this tube becomes blocked, air cannot enter the middle ear and when this happens the middle ear will begin to produce fluid.  This is basically a liquid but over time will develop thickly.  As the fluid is blocking the ear it obviously becomes harder for sound to pass through the inner ear.  Quite sounds become harder to hear, outside world noises are muffled , try it yourself it’s like having 2 fingers stuck inside your ear.

Many things Can Contribute to Glue Ear 

  • Colds and flu
  • Fetal Anti Convulsant Syndrome  (FACS)
  • Children with Cleft Lip and Palate
  • Genetic Conditions
  • Downs Syndrome

The reason for this being that the Eustachian Tubes that the children have are smaller

There Are Many Ways to Treat Glue Ear

The most common therapy is for the child to have Grommets placed into their eardrum.  These are little plastic tubes and would be carried out as a short operation under general anaesthetic.  After the surgeon has drained away the fluid, grommets will be inserted to allow the air to circulate and to stop the build up of fluid.  Grommets normally stay in until the ear has healed and will push out themselves.  If when they have fell out and a build up appears again, it may be decided that Grommets have to be fitted again.  Sometimes also Adenoids can be affected.  Adenoids are glands within the ear and sometimes they can become swollen and infected too.  Treatment will be decided by your surgeon to treat these too.

Hearing aids are another way of treating Glue Ear.  They can be used for any level of deafness and come in a variety of colours and sizes and basically they amplify (make louder) the sounds going into the ear.  Hearing aids for children are free of charge on the NHS.

Does My Child Have Glue Ear?

If you suspect your child has hearing issues your first port of call is your GP.  The child’s ear will be examined by the GP there and then.  If an infection is present in the ear, a course of anti biotics will be given  and is they feel a further appointment is necessary you will be then referred to ENT (Ears Nose and Throat)

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