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Glue Ear: Putting It All Together
Here is a summary of the important facts and information related to glue ear.
- Glue ear is a painless condition in which thick, sticky fluid collects behind the eardrum. The fluid blocks the middle part of the ear and can cause impaired hearing.
- Left untreated, glue ear can cause temporary hearing loss, contribute to delayed speech development in young children, affect a child’s behavior and educational progress, and in rare cases cause permanent damage to hearing.
- Glue ear can sometimes develop unnoticed. The most common symptoms are hearing loss and a stuffy feeling in the ears. In some children, behavior problems are the first clue.
- A physician can diagnose glue ear by looking inside the ear with a special instrument and conducting a hearing test (an otoscopy), and by using a test called tympanometry to determine if there is a problem with the middle ear.
- Glue ear often clears up on its own, without treatment.
- When treatment is necessary, the options include antibiotic medication, a procedure to drain the fluid called a
myringotomy, and the placement of ear tubes.
- Parents can help children with glue ear by talking with teachers about the condition and by using basic communication tips – such as getting the child’s attention before beginning to speak and speaking clearly – to help the child understand what is being said.