Navigating Your Way Through Common Women's Health Issues

3 Signs Your Child May Have Glue Ear

Glue ear is a relatively common childhood illness. This happens when one of the tubes in the ear gets blocked by fluid which then thickens and is hard to dislodge. If your child has problems that seem to be related to one or both of their ears, then they may have glue ear. How can you tell if they do?

1. Recent Cold or Ear Problems

Glue ear often happens after an initial illness. For example, children may be more prone to getting glue ear after a cold, virus or ear infection. Here, the initial illness creates the fluid in the ear.

While this fluid often sorts itself out once your child's cold or infection clears up, it can sometimes stick and get thicker. So, for example, even if your child no longer has a cold, they may still get glue ear afterwards.

Often, if this happens, your child loses their original symptoms but may seem unwell in other ways. For example, they may be grumpy or have some ear pain or discomfort.

2. Hearing Problems

If one of the tubes in your child's ear is blocked, then they may have some hearing problems. These may not be obvious at first, so you may need to look for signs that your child isn't hearing things as well as normal.

For example, if your child doesn't hear you calling them from another room or needs to have the TV set at a louder volume to hear it comfortably, then the blockage could be causing some hearing loss. Older children may notice for themselves that they aren't hearing as well out of one ear than the other.

3. Balance Problems

The tubes in the ear help the brain keep the body balanced. If any of these tubes become blocked, then the brain may not be able to read movement signals that the tubes normally send.

If one of your child's ear tubes are blocked by glue ear, then they may have some balance symptoms. For example, your child may feel dizzy at times; they may also find it hard to keep their balance when they stand up or walk.

If you think that your child might have glue ear, make an appointment for them to see your GP. Your doctor can check out their ears and diagnose what is wrong.

If your child does have glue ear, then this may clear up on its own or it may need medical intervention, like grommets, to drain the tube later. They may also need antibiotics if they have an active ear infection.