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Glue ear

Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT Surgery)

What is Glue ear?

Glue ear happens when the middle ear (behind the eardrum) becomes filled with sticky fluid. With fluid blocking the middle ear, it becomes harder for sound to pass through to the inner ear, making quieter sounds difficult to hear. For ears to work properly the middle ear needs to be kept full of air. The air travels through the eustachian tube which runs from the middle ear to the back of the throat.

Who suffers from Glue ear?

This condition is most commonly found in pre-school children but can also affect adults.

How would I know if I have Glue ear?

Common ear infection symptoms include:

  • Hearing loss
  • Earache or ear pain
  • Ringing or buzzing in the ear (Tinnitus)

What causes glue ear in adults?

There can be several different factors that cause glue ear:

  • Infection of the middle ear
  • Infected or enlarged adenoids
  • Severe allergies
  • Poor air quality
  • Tobacco smoke exposure

What are the symptoms of glue ear in adults?

  • have difficulty understanding people who are far away
  • have problems picking out conversations in places where there’s a lot of background noise
  • easily “tune out” of conversations when they’re distracted
  • only be able to understand face-to-face conversations that take place at a short distance
  • popping sensation
  • discharge from the ear

Glue ear can occasionally develop in adults. It’s diagnosed and treated in much the same way as children.

If symptoms show no signs of improving after about three months, grommets can be put inside the ear to drain the fluid from it.

Glue ear treatment 

Most cases of Glue ear can go away on their own so your GP may choose to wait and see if this is the case. However, glue ear that turns into a middle ear infection may be treated with antibiotics prescribed by your GP. For chronic cases surgery is sometimes the best treatment.  During this procedure, an ENT specialist removes the adenoid glands from behind the nose that may be contributing to fluid buildup in the ear, this is called an adenoidectomy.

Glue ear Consultants