Here at Castlepoint Independent Speech and Language Therapy, we often see children with a diagnosis of glue ear.
Glue ear, also known as "ottis media with effusion" is when the empty middle part of the ear canal fills up with fluid which can cause temporary hearing loss, earache and balance problems. It is commonly seen in young children but can affect some adults too.
The fluid in the middle ear is often thick and sticky which is why the condition is sometimes referred to as glue ear. Too much fluid means the bones within the middle part of the ear cannot vibrate as effectively, affecting the child’s hearing quality.
Glue ear can be commonly caused by recurrent infections, allergies or a blockage in the Eustachian tube which is a tiny tube that links the middle ear to the back of the throat.
Common symptoms that you may become aware of if your child does have glue ear are:
- Regular earaches
- Hearing loss
- Reports of feeling dizzy
- Difficulty concentrating
Treatment of glue ear can involve antibiotics and medication and in severe cases, surgical intervention with grommets may be required, to help drain the fluid from the ear and keep the ear fluid free.
How can a speech and language therapist help with glue ear?
If a child is having difficulty hearing, this may affect their speech and language development.
As hearing is essential for children to learn spoken language, if they have glue ear, they may start to present with unclear speech, mispronunciation of words, and difficulties with grammar and sentence structure.
They may be not hearing the finer elements of spoken language as they cannot hear these. For example, the sounds /f/ and /s/ are high frequency "quiet" sounds. If a child is not able to hear these properly, they may not develop these sounds with in their spoken speech.
In addition to hearing loss, glue ear can also affect the ability of children to process auditory information. It can make it difficult for children to follow conversations, understand instructions, learn new vocabulary and this can ultimately affect their social skills.
Once under treatment, a Speech and Language Therapist can carefully assess where your child's speech and language may have been affected and provide suitable therapy to improve language and speech development to within their normal age range.
We may work on improving their awareness of speech sounds within words, lengthening and developing their sentence structure or work on improving their auditory processing skills to learn and understand new language.
If you feel that your child may have glue ear, it is essential to get advice on this to prevent any difficulties that may arise. Speak to your GP as soon as possible and our team are always happy to have a chat on the phone.