Glue ear is a common childhood condition where the middle ear becomes filled with fluid. The medical term for glue ear is otitis media with effusion (OME).
It's estimated that one in five children around the age of two will be affected by glue ear at any given time, and about 8 in every 10 children will have had glue ear at least once by the time they're 10 years old.
The main symptom of glue ear is some hearing loss in one or both ears. This is usually similar to what you experience when you put your hands over your ears.
Signs that your child may be having problems hearing include:
- struggling to keep up with conversations
- becoming aggravated because they're trying harder to hear
- regularly turning up the volume on the television
Most cases of glue ear don't require treatment as the condition will improve by itself, usually within three months.
Treatment is usually only recommended when symptoms last longer than three months and the hearing loss is thought to be significant enough to interfere with a child's speech and language development.
In these circumstances, glue ear can usually be treated using minor surgery, which involves placing small tubes (grommets) in the ear to help drain away the fluid.