What is Glue Ear; What Causes Glue Ear?

Glue Ear (or Ear Glue) occurs when there is an accumulation of fluid behind the eardrum in the middle ear.

It is recognized as a leading cause of partial hearing loss in children. In fact it is believed that 25 percent of children will be affected at one time during their childhood years. It is more prevalent in boys than girls and between 2 and 5 years of age. However, it can also occur at later stages, including in adults.

Often glue ear occurs in both ears and is not easy to detect. That is because for the most part it is not painful and does not exhibit the usual symptoms of ear infections. This is usually caused by a problem with Eustachian tube, which is what connects the middle of our ears to our nose and throat. When the Eustachian becomes obstructed the middle ear is absorbed, and the vacuum caused draws fluid into the middle ear.

At first the fluid will appear watery and thin but over time becomes thick, which is where the term “Glue Ear” comes from. This is the point where hearing becomes muffled. Often this is caused by repetitive bacterial or respiratory tract infections or even nasal allergies.

Now, to Treatment of Glue Ear.

Sometimes glue ear does not need treatment. Many doctors prefer to sort of wait and see how things do or do not progress. It is estimated that 90% of these cases take care of themselves within 3-4 months. However, with children who have constant earaches or may have a chance of developing further complications such as speech problems if glue ear continues, then treatment is definitely needed.

Options include antibiotics, myringotonomy and ear tubes.

Antibiotics usually prove effective, but not all the time. They are usually prescribed when there is evidence of infection, the patient is in pain or there are signs of hearing loss.

Myringotonomy is used to drain fluid from the middle air.

This is done by making a small incision within the eardrum which allows the fluid to drain. Healing takes about a week or so. This procedure can also be implemented by inserting tubes called tympanostomy tubes in the eardrum. They allow air to pass and assist in fluid drainage.

Any ear tube surgery will be performed in a hospital. The patient will be in the hospital anywhere from 2 to 4 hours. However if the patient is an infant they may be in there overnight or longer.

If you feel you may suffer from this ailment, then by all means seek the advice of a qualified medical professional. This is far too important an issue to let go untreated.

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