We did an article about ‘Glue Ear, how it works, and how to treat it. We wrote this additional article to give you, our dear reader, some more background on the hearing difficulties caused by this painful annoyance, and what you could look out for to avoid the chance it happens to your loved ones.

 

Hearing loss with glue ear

The degree of hearing loss varies with each child. Doctors often use the word decibel (dB) when talking about hearing loss. Studies have shown that with glue ear, the loss of hearing can range from 0 dB to 60 dB.
The average loss is between about 20 and 30 dB. This is normally called mild hearing loss. If your child has mild hearing loss, he or she may not hear or may hear only faintly the soft sounds at the beginnings or ends of words, such as the ‘s’ in ‘sun’ and ‘t’ in ‘tin’.
If your child has glue ear, his or her hearing may change from day to day. Your child may even have periods of normal hearing. But if your child has glue ear constantly, or if it keeps coming back, they could spend much of the first two years of their life not being able to hear properly.

It’s important to remember that hearing loss in a child can sometimes have other causes. For example, the inner ear can become inflamed because of an ear infection or an injury. Inflammation is one of the ways the body responds to injury. It can cause swelling, pain, redness and warmth. Inflammation in the ear can lead to hearing loss because it affects the nerves that carry messages to the brain.

If you are concerned about other causes of hearing loss, discuss them with your doctor.

Risk factors for glue ear

Some factors put your child at higher risk:

  • Young age: Glue ear happens most often in children under 2, and children between the ages of 5 and 6. 
  • Spending time in large groups of people: Children who go to nursery, or live in large families, are more likely to get ear infections and glue ear. This is probably because your child may catch infections from other children, and some infections can lead to glue ear.
  • Given formula milk as a baby: Breastfeeding, even for a short time, seems to protect babies against glue ear for several years. Researchers think breast milk helps strengthen a baby’s immune system (the parts of the body that protect against infection).
  • Exposure to secondhand smoke: Children with parents who smoke are more likely to get ear infections as well as glue ear. Children who have at least one parent who smokes are about 50 percent more likely than other children to get ear infections and 40 percent more likely to get fluid in the ear.
  • Being prone to infections : Glue ear is more likely to affect children who get lots of ear infections, coughs and colds.
  • Having a facial deformity : Glue ear is more likely to affect children with abnormalities in the structure of their face, such as a cleft palate. The condition is also more common among children with Down’s syndrome and other genetic disorders.
  • Living in poverty: Glue ear is more likely to affect children from poorer families. Researchers don’t know why, but it may be linked to crowded living conditions, poor sanitation, poor medical care or poor diet.

Prevention is better than cure, and knowledge is power. Armed with these facts, you can stave off this ‘sticky’ infection!

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