As both a parent of two children and with many years of experience assessing young children’s hearing, I know how difficult it can be to know if your child is not ‘hearing’ or not ‘listening’. The importance of good hearing during childhood is key to language development, social development, and learning. Thankfully, most permanent hearing loss that is present when babies are born, is detected with the new-born hearing screening programme, with only a very small number of children developing a permanent hearing loss during their childhood. There are, however, a high proportion of children who develop intermittent, often fluctuating hearing loss, often known as ‘glue ear’. This can usually be detected with a children’s hearing test.
What is glue ear?
Glue ear is essentially when the small middle ear space (usually filled with air), which contains the three tiny middle ear bones, gets filled with a sticky, mucus type fluid. This restricts the movement of the eardrum and the middle ear bones and effectively reduces the amount of sound which is transmitted to the cochlea in the inner ear. This can give rise to a fluctuating hearing loss of between 0 and 40 dB (decibels) which can have a huge impact on a child’s ability to hear. Often, it can clear up naturally. Some common things to look out for with your child if they are experiencing glue ear are:
- Their behaviour deteriorates
- They say ‘what’ or ‘pardon’ more frequently
- They appear more tired and unsettled than usual
- Their speech becomes unclear
- They often appear that they are not listening
- They struggle to hear the TV or turn it up/sit close
- Their teachers notice they are struggling with following instructions
- They don’t hear well at a distance
Treatment for glue ear
Glue ear is common and is not something to be unduly concerned about if it is short lived. If, however, it persists for more than 3 months, it can become problematic. If it persists, there are several strategies which can help. At THE HEARING SPACE, Paul, our Clinical Audiologist has many years of experience working with children with glue ear. Often working with Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) colleagues, or simply monitoring hearing levels and providing advice and support when required, you will be given the most appropriate advice for your child if a hearing loss is detected.
Paul worked as a Principal Paediatric Audiologist in the NHS before becoming a lecturer at the University of Leeds, where he taught audiology for 10 years. He has recently set up an independent audiology practice in North Leeds, offering adult and child assessments, earwax removal and the latest hearing device technology.
THE HEARING SPACE
If you have any concerns about your child’s hearing, our paediatric audiologist has a wealth of experience and can carry out hearing assessments in the home. For more information, contact Paul Shaw at THE HEARING SPACE by CLICKING HERE or via the below details:
T: 0113 8730444