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Tara Tripp

What is 'glue ear'?

Tips on a common hearing condition from Tara Tripp Hearing Care, an independent, family run practice providing hearing healthcare services
Tara Tripp

"When glue ear is severe and persistent it can affect a child’s speech and language development"

Many of you will have heard the term ‘Glue Ear’ and wonder what exactly it means. When we have a heavy cold we produce mucus in the nose. In small children this mucus can build up behind the ear drum in the middle ear. When this happens, the sound cannot vibrate through to the hearing nerve and so the ‘volume’ is essentially turned down. This affects all sounds but particularly soft speech.

‘Glue Ear’ affects children much more than adults because the Eustachian tube, which enables the fluid to drain away, is much thinner and can easily become blocked.

What are the signs?

Surprisingly, glue ear does not cause much pain, if any, and parents will need to look out for other signs. Quite often children will go into their own little world and appear to have ‘selective’ hearing. Unfairly, these children are often described as not listening. One common sign of glue ear is the child talks too loudly as they cannot hear their own voice properly. Other signs include; clumsiness, poor speech and language development and often saying “what?” or “uh?”

What can I do?

If you suspect your child has glue ear, you need to visit your GP. Typically, after the initial examination there will be a one to three month waiting period to see if there is any improvement. If not, then it is usual for a referral to be made to the ENT (ear nose and throat) department for more diagnostic tests.


In most cases, glue ear will resolve by itself. However, when glue ear is severe and persistent it can affect a child’s speech and language development. In these cases glue ear is often solved by the insertion of a grommet. This is a tiny ventilation tube placed into the eardrum which allows air into the middle ear and helps prevent mucus from building up. See picture to right.

If you suspect your child is suffering from glue ear, you can arrange an ear check appointment with us. We can examine the ear, perform middle ear tests and write to your GP with the results.


Tara Tripp Hearing Care is an independent, family run practice providing hearing healthcare services. We have a reputation of providing excellent service and advice. Many of our clients have been with the practice for many years and we care for several generations of many families.

At the practice we provide in depth hearing assessments, ear wax removal using microsuction, hearing aid reprogramming and servicing among other services. As an independent practice we are able to supply hearing aids from all manufacturers. Any recommendations made are based on your individual hearing requirements.

We provide a free 45 day trial on every hearing system we recommend. This time enables you to determine benefit in your everyday environment. There is no commitment to purchase. If you have any queries, or would like an appointment, please do not hesitate to contact the practice.


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