Glue ear (otherwise known as cloudy ear drum or fluid on the ear) is a condition in which the middle of the ear (the area behind the eardrum) becomes filled with fluid which leads to hearing loss. Glue ear in adults is relatively uncommon as it is mainly suffered by children that are under the age of seven, however glue ear in adults and children is treated in much the same way and is completely curable. It is usually experienced during the winter months and is more prevalent amongst people living in “smoking” households.
Glue Ear Symptoms
The most common glue ear symptom is hearing loss – sometimes this will disappear on its own within a few weeks but in some cases it has been known to continue for several months. Glue ear may be experienced in just one ear or in both ears and there are a variety of glue ear symptoms that may accompany the hearing loss. These include:
- Balance problems
- Episodes of mild ear pain
- Problems sleeping
- Appearing clumsy
When glue ear in children is experienced, parents may also see a delayed level of speech and language development.
Glue Ear Causes
No-one knows for sure exactly what the glue ear causes are however it is thought to be something to do with the Eustachian tube which runs from the back of your nose to your middle ear. This tube is what prevents clogging in your ear as it drains away mucus and it also maintains equal air pressure. When glue ear occurs, the tube loses its ability to drain away mucus. Although there is no known cause there are a number of risk factors that are said to increase your chance of developing the condition:
- Living in a smoking household
- Being bottle fed instead of breast
- Having allergic rhinitis or a cleft palate
- Having Cystic Fibrosis
- Having Down’s Syndrome
Sometimes glue ear is caused by an undeveloped Eustachian tube – this is most common for glue ear in children though rather than adults.
Glue Ear Treatment
It is not often that glue ear treatment is administered, primarily because most cases of glue ear clear up by themselves within three months. However, if the glue ear is pretty severe or if it lasts for longer than three months you may be offered a hearing aid or surgery to aid with the symptoms. Further glue ear remedies that can be tried include using decongestants and antihistamines to lower the symptoms. However there is no medical proof that these glue ear home remedies work. Other glue ear treatment options that are more recommended for glue ear in adults include ear candling and Goldenseal capsules.