In small children and babies, fluid can accumulate behind the eardrum. This may cause deafness and reduced hearing.
In the beginning, the fluid is thin and watery but later it becomes thicker and tenacious causing the condition known as glue ear.
Doctors sometimes call it otitis media with effusion, secretory otitis media or serious media (SOM), although glue ear is not an infection, and the fluid in the ear does not contain bacteria or harmful organisms.
The most important symptom is loss of hearing. The following list contains a number of characteristic signs among older children:
- The child says continuously "what" or "pardon me"
- The television or the radio is turned up high
- Abnormal behavioural problems
- The child easily becomes frustrated because he or she cannot keep up with things
Earache is not uncommon when suffering from glue ear, although it is not usually as severe as in an acute middle ear infection. In fact, it is rather difficult to determine when looking at a glue ear whether it is an acute infection or glue ear of longer duration.
When in doubt, the family doctor or a specialist will often give an antibiotics treatment. It is best to consult your family doctor or a specialist if your child has an earache which cannot be controlled by an ordinary painkiller.
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