Conditions

Glue Ear and Grommets

Glue ear and grommets

Glue ear is the commonest cause of temporary deafness in UK kids under ten – the NHS reports that 90 per cent of children will suffer from it to some degree – and it’s particularly prevalent in kids under six. In part, that’s because it can go unnoticed, and kids labelled difficult or inattentive at school may actually be experiencing problems hearing.

Glue ear is the build-up of a sticky substance in the ear drum, and unlike some other ear infections, it doesn’t have any other symptoms, such as a fever, pain or feeling unwell. The sticky substance muffles hearing and, over time, that inability to hear can change the way kids behave. They may seem antisocial, have trouble concentrating and, if it’s not diagnosed, glue ear can have an impact on how well and how quickly kids learn to speak. In most cases it does clear up naturally without the need for treatment. But in others it just won’t go away.

There are several stages in treating glue ear. First, if you suspect your child’s hearing has been suffering for a month or more, take them along to your doctor or nurse for a test and examination. If glue ear is the culprit, your doctor can prescribe a course of antiobiotics, and if that doesn’t work, refer you to a specialist. They’ll take a careful measurement of your child’s hearing and may then recommend grommets.

Grommets are little tubes which are fitted into your child’s eardrum under a general anaesthetic at hospital. After all the ‘glue’ has been drained away, grommets keep the passageways in the ear clear and prevent more of that sticky stuff from accumulating. Kids can wear the grommets for six month to a year and they don’t cause any inconvenience.

As to why glue ear is so common – experts are divided. Some now believe it may just be a natural by-product of the ear’s development, but it’s also been noted that kids who live in a smoky home may be more at risk.

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My daughter is waiting to get grommets in a Dublin hospital that is backed up with long lists due to the "cutbacks'she is nearly two with no speech I'm just wondering do these grommets work??will my Little girl be ok??im worried sick and we are still waiting on a long list😢





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I have had grommets 3 times this set has stayed in about a year and a bit the time before that a year and before that 4-5 years (I know they last long times) they help for a few months then the hearing dips until I can barely hear anyone talking to me even if they are sitting beside me and so i tend not to talk to people in public or go out much as i find it embarrassing having to get people to repeat stuff 4 5 6 times to me and I really don't want to have the surgeries again as they never work!!





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Hi am atcually 25 years old i had an operation october 2012 had my adenoids removed and a grommet put in my left ear because my ear drum was sucked in i have had a check up as its been 15 months now i still get pains in my ear nt caused off the grommet apprently nd now have to go to hospital for further check up to see what is going to happen as the grommet has not fell i had my adenoids removed because they were to big and causing problems for my hearning alot which i didnt know





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Hi am atcually 25 years old i had an operation october 2012 had my adenoids removed and a grommet put in my left ear because my ear drum was sucked in i have had a check up as its been 15 months now i still get pains in my ear nt caused off the grommet apprently nd now have to go to hospital for further check up to see what is going to happen as the grommet has not fell i had my adenoids removed because they were to big and causing problems for my hearning alot which i didnt know





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I've had grommets twice. Now I have had them a second time, they have started coming out already, just 3 months of having them. The cause of ear problems was not glue ear, but was leaky and pain every day for around 1-3 months (unsure as this was 2011). Should I call and try to make a sooner appointment? Next one is in late August





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Hi My son got grommets fitted in last month(September)...how long will he start talking... Tk October2013





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Hi My son had grommets fitted in last month when he was 2years and 6months and now he has only a month with grommets, my question is when will his (babbling) stops coz he still babbles a lot...





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i have had grommets twice and im 13 now my hearing is still not good and i dont know if im allowed to have grommets again? what will they do if i cant? thanks to anyone who can answer xxx





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hi my daughter has just gone one an has been partially deaff in both ears since shes been born they said its similiar to glue ear what i dont get is if u can treat it with antibiotics y didnt they give it to my daughter ? and also no fluid comes out or anyrhing like that but everyone i know who has glue ear has fluid she doesnt she does suffer alot of ear ache and currently has ear infection in one ear and on antibiotics dont know what to do ????





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My daughter is 3 and a half she has suffered with ear infections from a small baby. She had gromits put in January 2012and since then has a leaky ear. It smells really vile (fishy) and although we are under the ENT at our local hospital I never seem to get anywhere with advice. Is this normal and can anything be done as se starts school september 2013 and am worried that she will get teased by other children because of the smell coming from her ear. Please help. Thanks. X





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Content supplied by NHS Choices

Glue ear is a common but poorly understood childhood condition where fluid builds up in the middle ear. The medical term for glue ear is otitis media with effusion. Read More »