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Glue Ear

What is Glue Ear?

Glue ear is the term used to describe the middle ear filling with mucus and fluid. Between 15-20% of children between 2 -5 years are likely to have glue ear at some time. It can fluctuate and may affect the child differently at different times.

Why might it be a problem?

The mucus stops the sound travelling through the ear and can cause temporary deafness.  If a child is unable to hear speech sounds and words clearly, he will be unable to copy them which may delay speech and language development.


What can cause glue ear?

  • Family history
  • Bacteria from colds, flu, sore throats
  • Passive smoking
  • Cold weather
  • Allergies to pets/pollen/dust
  • Using a dummy

How can I prevent or reduce the risk of Glue Ear occurring?

  • Breastfeed your baby
  • Give your child a balanced diet
  • Create a non-smoking environment
  • Reduce dummy use

How can I spot a child with Glue Ear?

If it is acute (sudden onset) a child will experience the following:

  • Severe earache
  • High temperature
  • Discharge of puss/blood
  • Very unwell – possible sickness and diarrhoea
  • Frequent pulling at their ears

Behaviours that frequently accompany Glue Ear

  • Tiredness
  • Pain (earache) with or without discharge
  • Withdrawal
  • Distractible
  • Protest
  • Clingy
  • Wake at night
  • Frequent colds
  • Breathing through their mouth
  • Hearing  difficulties
  • Frustration
  • Socially inept

What can I do if I suspect glue ear?

  • Keep a log of when your child is responsive or when they are having a ‘bad day’
  • Visit the G.P. and ask to be sent for a hearing test.

If you know a child has Glue Ear

  • Be patient
  • Reinforce everything visually
  • Always get their attention by using their name and only give the instruction once they have made eye contact with you
  • Give instructions as close to them as possible
  • Reduce background noise as much as possible
  • Facilitate their social relationships
  • Keep speech clear at all times
  • Position them at the front during circle time
  • Be ready to repeat things