The Anatomy of an Ear

Glue Ear mostly affects children and causes hearing loss.

What is glue ear?

Glue Ear occurs when the middle ear becomes full of fluid. Medically, this is known as otitis media with effusion (OME). The middle ear contains 3 tiny bones that carry sound vibrations from the eardrum to the inner ear.

A build of fluid means these vibrations can’t pass freely to the inner ear. A build up of fluid is related to the Eustachian tube which connects the middle ear to the back of the nose. The Eustachian tube helps to ventilate the middle ear. If the tube is not functioning properly due to previous infections, smoke irritation or allergic reactions – then a build up of fluid will occur.

Glue Ear isn’t caused by a build up of ear wax, or by an excess of water in the ear after swimming or showering.



  • Hearing loss
  • Earache
  • Delayed speech and language development in younger children
  • Balance problems
  • Behavioural problems


Initial treatment may include a steroid nose spray and/or antihistamine tablets.

Inflation of the eustachian tune with an Otovent from the chemist may be helpful.

Surgical treatment is recommended if symptoms last for more than 3 months and the hearing loss is affecting a child’s speech, school performance, balance or behaviour.

Glue ear is treated by inserting small tubes called Grommets. This procedure takes around 10 minutes and is performed under general anaesthetic as a day case.


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