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Glue ear

What is glue ear?

Collection of fluid in the middle ear is termed ‘glue’ ear. This collection occurs behind an intact ear drum. It leads to a hearing loss.

Who suffers from this condition?

The condition is frequently seen in children, and can involve both ears. In adults, it can occur as an aftermath of an ear infection or following an air journey. Rarely, fluid accumulation in only one ear can signify an untoward pathology in the space behind the nose, called nasopharynx.

How is it diagnosed?

It is important to document the presence of fluid by examination, and perform tests to confirm the presence of a hearing loss. These tests are pure tone audiometry, and tympanometry.

What is its treatment?

More often than not the fluid resolves given time. If the fluid does not resolve in approximately 3 months, and the hearing loss impedes communication, surgical intervention is required. A small cut is made in the ear drum (Myringotomy), and the fluid is aspirated using suction. The procedure is performed under a general anaesthetic. Depending on the clinical case, a grommet may be inserted.

In adults with fluid accumulation in one ear it is important to examine the nose and nasopharynx. This is done using endoscopes, which we have in our facility. It is a procedure we perform as part of the examination at your consultation.

Ear drum with fluid behind it.
An audiometer used to perform a hearing test, also called an audiogram
A grommet in the ear drum
A flexible endoscope used to examine the nose, postnasal space, larynx (voice box), and pharynx (throat)
Glue ear
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