The most common condition affecting hearing in children is glue ear. Glue ear is particularly prevalent between the ages of two and five. It is caused by a blockage within the ear that leads to a build-up of sticky fluid behind the eardrum, preventing it from working properly and potentially causing a hearing loss.
Children with glue ear may show some of the following symptoms:
- hearing loss
- apparently inattentive, quiet or withdrawn behaviour
- difficulty concentrating
- speech problems or delays
- talking too loud, or talking less
- recurrent ear infections
- problems with balance
Glue ear is a common cause of educational difficulties in school children. It should be ruled out by formal assessment.
In most cases glue ear usually clears up by itself, but if it persists or is severe, minor surgery to insert a small ventilation tube called a grommet may be required.