Information For Parents And Teachers
If a child you know has “glue ear”, you may find this information helpful.
“Glue ear” is fluid behind the eardrum. That’s why it is also called middle ear fluid. Fluid can block the area behind the eardrum – the middle ear space. This fluid prevents sounds getting through (this is the most common type of hearing difficulty in children).
For the middle ear to work properly it needs to be full of air. That’s why it pops every now and then!
A tube connects your ear to your throat and allows air into the middle ear space. However, sometimes air can’t get in and when this happens, the middle ear can produce fluid. This happens very often in young children with colds and teething and in most cases will clear up by itself.
At first the fluid can be runny and perhaps only fill part of the middle ear space. However, the fluid may become thicker and more glue-like over time, causing a more noticeable hearing difficulty.
If your child gets an infection inside the ear, it can be very painful and you should see a doctor.
ENT Referrals And Grommets
If your child’s hearing issues continue over a time, usually longer than 4-6 months, you need referring to an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist. This can be done by your own doctor or the audiologist.
At the ENT clinic, the specialist may ask you to return to the clinic at a later date to re-check your child’s ears or to be told you are on the waiting list for “grommets”.
Grommet surgery is straightforward and is done under light general anesthetic. A tiny cut is made in the eardrum, the glue is drained out and a tiny tube is placed in the hole.
This is the grommet and it airs the ear to keep it healthy, preventing the fluid building up again. After a few months, the grommet may be pushed out. The small hole usually heals quickly and may leave a small scar on the eardrum.
Grommets may need to be inserted more than once.
If your child has “glue ear” and hearing issues, here is how you and others can respond.
- Make sure your child sees your face when you are talking: get their attention first.
- Have your child sit nearer their teacher in school.
- Talk loudly and clearly.
- Check and repeat if you think your child has not heard you the first time
- Encourage your child to ask for things s/he hasn’t heard to be repeated.
- Explain to family members, carers and teachers what your child needs from them to hear better. Better still, show them this list.
Do not hesitate to ask your Audiologist, doctor or Ear, Nose & Throat consultant if you need more information.