Grommets (Glue-ear treatment)
For the first three months after glue ear is diagnosed, it’s likely that your child won’t receive any treatment.
However, your child’s condition will be monitored by your GP. This is known as “active observation” or “watchful waiting”. Treatment for glue ear isn’t usually given during the first three months after diagnosis, because over half of all cases resolve within three months, and there’s no medication that shortens the length of time the symptoms last. Medications such as antihistamines, decongestants and antibiotics have been tested for treating glue ear, but evidence shows they have little effect in shortening the duration of symptoms. They can also cause side effects.
When treatment is required
If your child still has fluid in their ear(s) after three months, active observation may still continue. This is because 9 out of 10 cases of glue ear resolve within a year.
Treatment is usually only recommended if your child has:
- severe hearing loss
- hearing loss that’s causing significant problems with their learning, development and social skills
- Down’s syndrome or a cleft palate
Glue ear is unlikely to get better by itself in children with Down’s syndrome or a cleft palate, and hearing loss could make existing communication problems worse. In these circumstances, you will probably be referred to your local ear, nose and throat (ENT) department for further assessment and treatment.
Hearing aids and grommets are the two main treatment options for glue ear.