​Glue Ear

Glue ear in your child will occur when the space behind the ear drum gets filled with a thick sticky fluid. This is not a very detrimental disease, however, hearing relies on the vacuum behind your ear drum and if this is filled with fluid, it obstructs hearing. If both of your child’s ears are affected, this can reduce the hearing capability significantly. If left like this for a prolonged period, it can affect the speech development of your child, as speech development majorly depends on your child’s hearing.

Although glue ear can occur at any age, it is most common amongst children aged less than 2 years.

Children who have glue ear do not have troublesome health.

Glue ears are usually diagnosed when children are being checked for a completely different medical condition. The most significant of all symptoms of glue ear is hearing loss. Analogically speaking, glue ear feels exactly like when you have ear plugs in your ears: you will hear voices muffled and very low. Generally your child will not be able to identify hearing loss due to glue ears. Hence, you will have to keep a close track on him or her. If your child is not responding  in one go, is mishearing what you’re telling him or her, is asking for you to put the TV on a higher volume or is not responding when there is a lot of background noise, he or she may have glue ears.

It is important that you ask your doctor to examine your child’s ears frequently.
You should consult the Children’s Hospital Service Line at The Aga Khan University Hospital if you feel your child is hearing less than normal. You should also ask your doctor to check your child’s ear frequently, whenever you visit for a general check-up.
Your time with your doctor maybe limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.

Your doctor will use the following two techniques to identify glued ears:

  • Otoscope: this is an instrument through which your doctor will look into your child’s ear drum and canal. It has a small light and also a magnifying lens.

  • Tympanometry: your doctors will use this device to check how well your child’s ear drum is vibrating on the transmission of sound. In case of fluid behind the ear drum, it will not move as aptly as it should.​

Your doctors will not suggest any treatment for glue ears for at least three months. However, he or she will ask for frequent follow-up visits, at times on a monthly basis, to check your child’s ears. On-going observation is an option if development of speech is normal. As the child grows older, he or she is less likely to have glue ears.

Grommets are another medical treatment option. Grommets are tiny plastic tubes which will be inserted in your child’s ears through a short surgery. This is an option which can be considered if your child’s speech development is hampered due to glue ears. The following are things to be considered in grommets:

  • Grommets allow air into the space behind the eardrum which does not allow fluid to fill up there.

  • There is less risk of any infectious fluid build-up once the grommets have been inserted.

  • If infectious fluid does build up, it will flow out through the grommets.

It is good if you discuss both the options with your child specialists, as they hold the medical expertise to suggest a way forward.  ​

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.
The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.
The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.
Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.



The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.