Glue ear and your child – how to handle it
Glue ear is an unpleasant problem in many children. It can be accompanied by ear ache, temporary hearing loss and lead to frustrating, ongoing problems. The proper name for glue ear is otitis media with effusion and it is common in children of all ages.
Glue ear is a sticky substance that builds up and sits in the middle ear. It is caused either when the Eustachian tube is too short, too horizontal and too collapsible making it hard for air to enter the ear. This means the fluid doesn’t drain from the nasal area properly and it causes a build-up of the fluid making it very uncomfortable.
How do I know my child has glue ear?
Usually the first thing you may notice is that there is hearing loss. Your child may complain they cannot hear or if they are too young to tell you, it could be that you notice a change in the way your baby reacts to sounds. They may pull on their ears, cry a lot, and not respond as they should when you talk to them. If they are suffering from some hearing loss it can cause a delay in your child’s speech, they may also become tired and frustrated causing behavioural issues. Some other symptoms to look for in older children are ringing in the ears, disturbed sleep and problems with balance.
If the fluid builds up it can affect the ear drum and cause even more damage. In some cases you will see the liquid running out of the ear. Never let it get to this stage. =Q=Go immediately there is any sign of problems with the ears to your doctor or health practitioner.
If you child had been diagnosed with glue ear there are various treatments that are available to try such as a nasal balloon, which helps ease pressure and clears fluid. It is also important to limit dairy foods if your child has this condition. Consult a natural practitioner for supplements to clear the sinuses and Eustachian tubes. However, if your child has a series of more severe cases, they will probably need grommets.
Grommets are small tubes that are inserted into the eardrum under operation that allow the fluid build up to drain away. They also help keep the air pressure between the middle and outer ear regulated. This gives the child back their balance and reduces pain in the ear canal. Surgery is done under general anaesthetic. Sometimes there is an immediate improvement however the doctor will do a hearing test to make sure it has worked. Grommets are not permanent and they usually fall out of the ear on their own within 12 months. If this does not happen however they may need to be removed.
It is important to get grommets for your child if a medical professional says they need it. If you have doubts you can get a second opinion but do not ignore the recommendations as glue ear can cause permanent issues for your child’s hearing. It is also quite painful.