How does glue ear affect the hearing?When we have glue ear, the fluid or congestion remains behind the eardrum, and this fluid blocks the passage of sound. It’s like trying to hear through/under water! Hearing problems due to glue ear will often fluctuate depending on how much a fluid build-up there is, or how thick/mucous-like the fluid becomes. So, there may be some days where your child hears better than others. They may complain of feeling like their fingers are stuck in their ears, or a crackling noise when they move their jaw. They will struggle to hear softer sounds. Younger children may tug at their ears or rub their ears.
Other symptoms of glue ear include:
- Although glue ear starts off with sterile fluid, ear infections can be easier to develop in a child with glue ear. This is because the bugs your child is exposed to are more likely to thrive in fluid. In the case of an ear infection, a child may complain of pain in the ear, the area around the ear may become red, and they may also have a fever.
- Less common symptoms include tinnitus or ringing in the ear, and some children may suffer balance and clumsiness problems.
- Younger children may have delayed speech and language development or they may mispronounce or miss certain consonant sounds, e.g. ‘s’ or ‘th’
Other issues to be aware of include:
- If a sibling has had glue ear, then the likelihood of glue ear increases.
- Children with Cleft Palate or Downs Syndrome have even smaller Eustachian tubes, so they are greater risk of developing glue ear.
What can you do to help your child?
- Make sure you child can see your face when you are talking, so they can use your facial cues to help them understand.
- Reduce the background noise, so that it doesn’t interfere with them hearing speech.
- Grab their attention first, so they know that you are talking to them and they can concentrate.
- Slow down your speech. This gives your child extra time to tune in and listen, and to break down the sentence into smaller bits. This makes it much easier for them to understand, or to put together what they have missed.
- Give them extra time to listen to you and to think about what they wish to say.