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What is glue ear?

Glue ear is a common condition where fluid collects in your middle ear behind your eardrum. It can cause deafness and repeated earache or infections, sometimes resulting in a discharge from your ear.

Your surgeon has recommended placing a grommet (small plastic or metal tube) to treat your glue ear.

How does glue ear happen?

The eustachian tube connects your middle ear with the back of your nose. Sometimes this tube does not work properly. This causes fluid to build up in your middle ear. This collection of fluid is called glue ear.

Figure showing how blocking of the Eustachian tube causes glue ear

What are the benefits of surgery?

The grommet allows air to enter your middle ear, preventing fluid build-up and the resulting deafness.

Are there any alternatives to surgery?

Many people with glue ear do not need surgery. The condition almost always gets better but it is not always possible to say when this will happen.

Another treatment is to wear a hearing aid until hearing improves.

What does the operation involve?

The operation is usually performed under a general anaesthetic but a local anaesthetic can be used. The operation usually takes about 20 minutes.

Your surgeon will make a small hole in your eardrum and remove the fluid by suction. They will place a plastic or metal grommet in the hole.

What complications can happen?

General complications of any operation

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Blood clot in your leg
  • Blood clot in your lung

Specific complications of this operation

  • Leaking from your ear of clear fluid or fluid mixed with blood for 1 to 2 days
  • Ear discharge lasting longer than 1 to 2 days
  • Small hole left in the eardrum
  • Repeated build-up of fluid in your middle ear

How soon will I recover?

You should be able to go home the same day.

Do not swim for 6 weeks and then do not dive deeper than 2 metres. Other than swimming, you should be able to return to normal activities after 1 to 2 days.

Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, ask the healthcare team or your GP for advice.

The grommet will fall out of your ear by itself, after 6 to 18 months, depending on the material and design of the grommet.

Summary

Glue ear is a common condition that usually gets better without any surgery. Surgery is recommended when the condition lasts longer than 3 months and the hearing loss is causing problems.

TREATMENT COST

The London Clinic offers affordable, competitive self-pay packages for certain treatments. Please call +44 (0)20 3219 3315 to speak to our helpful team to find out more and to book an appointment.

Disclaimer

The operation and treatment information on this website is published under license by The London Clinic from EIDO Healthcare UK and is protected by copyright laws. Other than for your personal, non-commercial use, you may not copy, print out, download or otherwise reproduce any of the information. The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

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