Glue ear is a condition in which fluid accumulates in the middle ear behind the ear drum. It is the commonest cause of partial deafness in children and it is estimated that one in four children are affected with glue ear at some stage of their lives.
There is some debate about how effective medical treatments are and the mainstay of treating children with glue ear is with ventilation tubes (grommets).
The decision to operate and insert a grommet in the eardrum is dependent on many factors such as the patient's age, whether there are recurrent middle ear infections, pain, speech delay, learning or behavioral difficulties.
It can also depend on the appearance of the eardrum (for instance whether there is a retraction pocket, which is a localised area of scarring that may lead to problems).
Young children with poor language development, pain or recurrent ear infections should have grommets inserted as soon as possible. Older children with few symptoms can be treated conservatively with regular follow-up visits in the outpatient clinic, to monitor their hearing and the appearance of the ear drum.
The main objective of grommet insertion is to get rid of the fluid in the middle ear by allowing air to enter through the grommet, so temporarily bypassing the problem. Normal hearing is restored once this objective is accomplished.
Grommets are available in may different shapes and sizes. On average, a grommet will stay in place between six to 12 months and will then fall out as the healing eardrum pushes it out into the ear canal.
If the child redevelops glue ear, it may be necessary to re-insert another grommet. The operation to insert a grommet is usually performed as day-case surgery under general anaesthesia and it is the most common ear nose and throat procedure.
To make an appointment in the meantime please call the ENT clinic on
0161 393 3995
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