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Glue Ear

Glue Ear

What is Glue Ear?

Glue ear is fluid behind the ear drum. It blocks the middle ear and causes partial deafness. It can be mild, coming and going by itself, or it can be long term causing lots more problems and becoming difficult to deal with. Sometimes there is also an infection inside the ear which may be painful. Sometimes you would hardly know that fluid was there, except your child is battling with changeable hearing. Glue ear is usually associated with bouts of colds, coughs and catarrh, so it is much more common in winter.

Glue ear is extremely common in children. Why? Well, for the middle ear to work properly it needs to be full of air. The Eustachian tubes, connecting your ears with your throat, keep the middle ears aired and healthy. Small children are still growing, and so are their Eustachian tubes. In children the tunes are not yet as vertical and wide as they will be later on. They are not so effective and are prone to infection. If infected the tube walls may stick together so the air in the middle ear can't circulate and, as the pressure drops, mucus is produced by the unhealthy cell walls. First of all it's a runny liquid, which can get thicker, more like catarrh, or even like jelly, and it fills the middle ear cavity.

This affects children's hearing. It's like listening to the world with both fingers stuck in their ears. They can't always hear everything you say, so its no wonder they're tired and irritable, or they just want to be left on their own.

The above information is an extract from a fact sheet for parents and teachers which is produced by The National Deaf Children's Society (NDCS): An organisation of families, parents and carers supporting deaf children.

National Deaf Children's Society

Information - Hearing Impairment

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