Otitis Medica With Effusion (Glue Ear)

Glue ear
Glue ear

This condition is also known as glue ear or serous otitis media. It is a common condition where fluid collects in the middle ear behind the eardrum.

A tube, called the eustachian tube, connects the middle ear with the back of the nose. The eustachian tube allows air to reach the middle ear so that the pressure behind the eardrum stays the same as the pressure in the air around the head.

Sometimes this tube does not work properly, often due to a cold or large adenoids. This causes fluid to build up in the middle ear.

This fluid prevents the ear drum vibrating properly and thereby produces a degree of deafness. The fluid is commonly quite thick, this is why the condition is often called “glue ear”. It occurs most commonly in children. It is particularly common in children who suffer repeated upper respiratory infections, children with a cleft palate and with Down’s syndrome. Children may present with any or all of the following symptoms including hearing loss, poor attention and/or behaviour, concerns with speech/language, and delayed educational progress.

For the majority of children this is a self limiting process with the effusion/s clearing spontaneously in over half the children within 3 months with time and simple medication. In the other children, however, treatment is required. The most common reason is because the hearing loss is sufficiently great as to cause difficulties, perhaps with speech, with school or at home. Treatment may also be required because harm is occurring to the ear drum as a result of the fluid. Lastly episodes of “glue ear” may be associated with sufficiently frequent and severe bouts of pain in the ear as to require treatment.
These children may require surgical intervention by myringotomy and grommet insertion with / without adenoidectomy.

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