How Is Your Child Deaf? What If He or She has Glue Ear? A Best Guide

How does your child seem deaf? You have obviously had some clue to this or you wouldn't be here to start with. Perhaps he or she has glue ear? Have you considered this? Well, here is the best guide to looking for the signs and symptoms.


This article targets people involved with young children. The objective is to identify whether the child is suffering from deafness and exam if the possible cause is glue ear. This is where there is a fluid build-up behind the eardrum.


This interferes with the sound waves travelling to the small bones in the ear, which hinder the brain's ability to decipher and transfer those messages. Ultimately, this leads to temporary deafness.

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Young children can’t communicate as well as older ones. It is up to the people who care for them to observe as to whether health, emotional and psychological problems are developing. You cannot simply ask a young child how they are feeling. This has to be seen and be predicted. It is through their behaviour that this deafness can be identified.

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Temporary Deafness... Look out for a change in behaviour!

Changing behaviour patterns may give you an indication of deafness. They may have a change in their speech or how they socialise with others. A child may not respond to you when you speak to them out of their view. You may notice that when you do speak face to face that their eyes focus on your mouth rather than eye to eye.

This is because they are trying to make out what you are saying by other clues. Examples of this are facial expressions, shape of mouth in action (similar to lip reading). They may sound louder as if shouting when attempting to communicate. This is because they are responding in a relative way in response to what they are hearing. They may not be able to hear themselves as they used to, so have adjusted their sounds naturally to counteract.

Their perception of sound, therefore, changes and this can be demonstrated through their behaviour. They may have the television louder than it used to be.

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What Behaviours Suggest Deafness - a summary:

  • Behaviour patterns may change.
  • A change in how the child interacts with others
  • No response when there is a noise from behind them.
  • They may look as though they are lip-reading you.
  • They may seem like they are shouting.
  • The television may be set louder.

These are suggestions, but ultimately the best person to notice a change in behaviours is the family who knows the child at best. It is, therefore, important that you note these changes before reporting them to a professional knowledgeable in this field.

Glue ear is associated with a recent illness, cold or infection, for example ear ache. If these behaviours have been followed from a recent illness or infection, then it is likely that the child may have glue ear (the medical term for glue ear is otitis media with effusion).

If this is not cleared up naturally, the Doctor might prescribe antibiotics.

A consultant told me that children that suffer with glue ear are more likely to show signs in winter when viruses and bugs are more persistent. It is also a common condition that affects 90% of children at some point up to the age of ten. Click Here for Source

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Glue ear - Summerise, so far.

  • Glue ear is associated with a recent infection
  • Most of the time glue ear clears up naturally
  • Signs of glue ear is more likely to occur at winter times
  • 90% of children has experienced glue ear up to the age of ten
  • The medical term for glue ear is otitis media with effusion


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Understanding How Glue Ear Develops

Most common in children, glue ear develops as a result of a possible infection. The tube behind the eardrum becomes thick with glue like substance. This blocks sound vibrations from interacting with the inner ear, thereby giving a muffling effect and distorting what is heard.

This is a video animation compiled by Bupa that helps to explains what glue ear is.

In summary:

  • The Eustachian tube becomes blocked with a glue like substance
  • This blocks the sound waves from vibrating through the ear drum
  • This leads to hearing loss
  • The glue like substance maybe a result of an infection
  • Glue ear, or otitis media with effusion, will clear up naturally in most children.

If after three months the deafness has not gone away, it is advisable to go through a series of assessments.

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The Assessment Process.

The procedure, if left and the glue ear remains, may have a marked affect on the development of a young child. This is what was thought to have happened to my son prior to his diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome. Please click here for ‘You think your child has Asperger’s?’

There is a genetic component that makes people more susceptible to contracting glue ear. It may be asked during the process whether there has been susceptibility within the family of glue ear.

  • Glue ear has a genetic link


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  • If left untreated and the glue ear continues to cause deafness, this could lead to a hinder in a child’s development growth.

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Treatment is generally offered if the symptoms last for more than three months. The process of assessment consists initially with your G.P. who may use an instrument called an Otoscope. This is used to detect the presence of fluid behind the eardrum.

A specialist from the ear, nose and throat department (ENT) may assess the child via tympanomentry and an audiogram. This will show the specialist as to the extent of fluid to the ear or ears and how much sound has been lost.

  • The G.P. completes an initial assessment with the use of an Otoscope. He then refers the patient for further investigation with the ear, nose and throat department.
  • The ENT specialist performs two tests on the child – tympanomentry and via an audiogram

If it is felt that the affects warrant a small operation, the child is then referred to a pre-operative assessment and an appointment is made for the procedure.

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A real grommet inserted into a child's eardrum. This allows the sticky fluid an exit from the middle ear.
A real grommet inserted into a child's eardrum. This allows the sticky fluid an exit from the middle ear.

What is the procedure?

This is typically a small operation under general anaesthetic.  The child is normally in hospital for day surgery for a few hours. The procedure only actually lasts a matter of minutes.  A hole is created in the eardrum and a grommet is fitted to keep the hole open.  This allows the fluid to drain away. 

This drops out after about 6 months
This drops out after about 6 months

Is the glue ear procedure safe?

The procedure is safe and has miraculous and instantaneous affects. Once the child has fully recovered, they can go home and continue life normally. Within a year, however, the grommet naturally falls out. It looks like this.


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Glue Ear: An Essential Guide
Glue Ear: An Essential Guide

A Highly Recommended Read! Glue Ear: An Essential Guide for Teachers, Parents and Health Professionals (Paperback)

Although this is used to educate teachers, it is useful for everyone!  If you are a teacher, parent or health care professional, this book can help in the understanding of hearing loss.  The implications of glue ear can lead to this hearing loss and devastating effects on development and skills of the sufferer.   

This essential guide is informative and clearly gives teaching strategies that has been long waited for.  You will not find another product that has been professionally produced and informative in the realms of glue ear and hearing loss.  A much needed book that comes highly recommended!

For more information and to place in your basket, please click on the icon below.  Remember, Amazon is a recommended seller and you will not go wrong with purchasing this great book!

Glue Ear: An Essential Guide for Teachers, Parents and Health Professionals (Paperback)

Grommets are an effective treatment for glue ear.

Although this has become more the traditional method of treatment, there are other forms that suggest using air to help ease the glue substance away from the ear. This is with the use of a balloon or an air pump instrument. The grommets, however, has been effective for my son and many others, although a refit is often required.

© This work is covered under Creative Commons License

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Comments 22 comments

Princessa profile image

Princessa 6 years ago from France

Very important information here. My daughter had glue ear when she was 3 and I only noticed because she didn't like to interact with other children, she would engage in physical activity but NEVER in other social games involving listening and talking. We though she might be autistic and it was a great relief to find that the problem was so simple to solve. She went in for surgery (only stayed in the hospital for a couple of hours and the surgery costs as only 500 euros) and we saw an inmediate result. The ear operation changed my daughter's life!


shazwellyn profile image

shazwellyn 6 years ago from Great Britain Author

Thanks Pincessa. Your example seems typical to what many people report. It was difficult for us as Daniel had/has aspergers and glue ear three times during first ten years of life. It was confusing... was his social development due to deafness or was he autistic? Well, it turned out to be both! However, I hope this hub might help people. It it makes a difference to someone and helps them on the pathway to hearing, then this has made the work worthwhile. Some good would have come out of my son's difficulties. Thank you for reading x


Denno66 6 years ago

Huh. Well if you were to meet me, you would notice all of the symptoms you discussed. I suffered from those when I was a kid and to this day I read lips when people talk to me. With over 40% loss in my left ear and 60% in my right, I'm actually 100% Deaf overall ;p Great hub and wonderful writing as usual. Peace to you and yours. :-)


shazwellyn profile image

shazwellyn 6 years ago from Great Britain Author

Thanks Denno. Did you suffer with glue ear when you were young then? Are you suffering with long term effects of glue ear... permanent damage? Or is there another reason for the loss of hearing?

Do you have one of those super duper digital hearing aids? They are a real boom, my patients tell me.

Thanks for your support, as always x


Denno66 6 years ago

Actually, I still suffer from it from time to time, but the onset was from an illness when I was an infant. I had a gazillion ear operations as a kid where they inserted tubes for drainage. Oi. I even had an eardrum-reconstruction surgery, but to no avail. No, I do not wear any hearing aids, as I've learned to communicate with no noticeable effort. Nice pic, btw. :-)


shazwellyn profile image

shazwellyn 6 years ago from Great Britain Author

Denno... Do you think it had an impact on your learing development and, if so, do you think you caught up? x


Denno66 6 years ago

Actually, yes it did have a large impact on my learning. I still have a difficult time absorbing things, but I have more than made up for it by life experience. :-)


shazwellyn profile image

shazwellyn 6 years ago from Great Britain Author

you have an amazing imagination.. your stories show that x


Denno66 6 years ago

Thank you, Sharon. My name is Scott, if I've not told you that before. And you have amazing stamina. Your great personality shows that. I'm not sure I could go through what you go through and still be even anything resembling civil. :-)


shazwellyn profile image

shazwellyn 6 years ago from Great Britain Author

Oh, I think you would. Everyone has a cross to bear and something they have to work through, it is all difficult, but somehow you get through x

Thanks Scottx


Rayalternately profile image

Rayalternately 6 years ago

I've had significant hearing problems all my life that were never identified as a child. In my case it wouldn't have helped in terms of treatment, but hearing problems in kids are still often missed. Nice article to raise awareness of the issue.


shazwellyn profile image

shazwellyn 6 years ago from Great Britain Author

Rayalternately - Thanks for reading. So, you didn't suffer glue ear then? Do you think that if your parents were armed with the information that have supplied, that it would have helped direct you into a treatment that would be right for you?

I think the longer someone is left deaf, the harder it is to catch up developmentally.

What do you think?

Shaz x


Denno66 6 years ago

I think I agree with you. It does impede the normal learning curve and takes an effort to right it, but it can happen. :-)


shazwellyn profile image

shazwellyn 6 years ago from Great Britain Author

I was partially sighted when I was younger - squint. I was in a learning disability class for a while, failed my 11+ at 10/11 - by 12 passed with flying colours! I couldnt read or write until I was 10. However, I have problems with learning facts - rote learning - and spelling. I think the sight issue had a great impact on my development, for which I still struggle with today.

Thanks BB


Denno66 6 years ago

But what becomes of it is more rewarding than if one were to just learn at the so-called 'normal' pace. Quite honestly, I think you are far better for the struggle; that's my opinion. The Sheep.


shazwellyn profile image

shazwellyn 6 years ago from Great Britain Author

Thanks for that! Actually, I think I am going to spend less time on hubpages. I have got one more hub that I want to publish and I think I am going to blog off somewhere else - see how other sites operate. I don't feel particularly rewarded here, despite being an active member and doing what is expected. My hubscore is still not what I would hope it would be and I am not sure that the reality is that my work is not actually being read.

I think hubpages is about a popularity vote as opposed to talent being encouraged.

I'll stop by and keep my hubs here going x


Denno66 6 years ago

When I start school next month, I won't be seen here much, if at all myself. I went into this knowing I wouldn't be read much(I'm barely over 1000 views after two month's and 30 hubs' worth of work). Oh well, I will miss the interaction with you, but reality is the primary determinant in life, after all. :-)


shazwellyn profile image

shazwellyn 6 years ago from Great Britain Author

You have to do what is right for you. We have email.. just keep in touch. Our friendship is not based on condition. I would like to know that you are being successful and are happy. That is good. shazwellyn@live.co.uk - but you know that, dont you. x


mel22 profile image

mel22 6 years ago from ,

Never had glue ear but had friends that did... never seemede to detriment their learning but they were more touchy about the slightest thing!


shazwellyn profile image

shazwellyn 6 years ago from Great Britain Author

mel22.. who knows what might have been different if they didnt have glue ear! Each person has varying degrees of the condition and react in very individual ways. I just hoped that I might have raised awareness.

Thanks for reading!


MFB III profile image

MFB III 6 years ago from United States

Excellent advice for parents who are wondering why their child is not listening to them well. Also a great relief for parents who are concerned about a child exhibiting signs of deafness. Many become unglued over such a fearful diagnosis when all the child needs is some ear glue remover in the form of antibiotics. Great hub~~~MFB III


shazwellyn profile image

shazwellyn 6 years ago from Great Britain Author

Thank you MFB - this is a valuable contribution! Unfortunately, if left can have an impact on the child especially if re-occurring. Nice for you to comment x

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