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What exactly is the condition known as glue ear and how is it normally treated?

Glue ear is an infection of the middle ear that causes a thick and sticky fluid to build up, hence the rather unusual name.

The condition is surprisingly common in young children from the ages of two to six. This is primarily because their eustachian tube (the tube connecting the ear to the throat) can become blocked very easily.

Glue ear can occur in one or both ears, and the typical symptoms are a significant loss of hearing and noticeably delayed speech. In more severe cases of the condition, the child may also experience some degree of pain in the ear.

The glue ear infection sometimes clears up naturally but in many instances surgery will be needed. Treatment involves the insertion of small tubes into the ear to try to equalize the pressure. An anesthetic will almost always be given.

Although this treatment will effectively solve the problem it does not fully prevent further infection. Fortunately, children do grow out of the condition, and once they reach the age of five or six, glue ear becomes exceptionally rare.

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