Glue Ear In Adults: Treatments And Other Remedies
Published February 19th, 2020
Have you ever noticed that when you have a cold, your hearing seems to be affected too? That condition is known as “glue ear,” and if left untreated, it can disrupt your work and social life.
Glue ear is one of the most common medical conditions that affect hearing. It happens when a thick, glue-like fluid blocks the Eustachian tube. This is the canal connecting the middle ear to the upper throat and the back of the nasal cavity.
Although it is more common in children, it affects a significant number of adults too. In fact, about 1/3 of those who suffer from glue ear are adults.
Symptoms for glue ear in both adults and children are similar. But adult glue ear sufferers may also feel pressure deep in their ears and tiredness from overall discomfort.
Aside from dulled hearing, glue ear can also cause balance problems. This can result in strained social interactions and difficulty in doing certain tasks. They may also show symptoms of selective hearing, which can lead to permanent hearing damage if not properly treated.
Preliminary Treatment for Glue Ear
In general, the symptoms for glue ear goes away on its own. But unlike most illnesses, there is no pharmaceutical medication for glue ear. Thus, if the symptoms persist, it is strongly advised to see your doctor.
To determine the severity of your condition, the doctor will examine your ear using a magnified scope with an attached light. This will also help them determine the exact spot of the fluid build-up.
Depending on the severity of your glue ear, the doctor may recommend autoinflation or surgery. If your glue ear has turned into a full-blown infection, antibiotic treatment is usually prescribed.
Autoinflation (Balloon Treatment)
This home remedy is one of the recommended treatments for glue ear. It involves blowing into a balloon with one nostril while pressing the other. This procedure is repeated several times a day for each nostril.
Autoinflation helps expel the accumulated fluid in your ear canal. As a result, it alleviates the fluid build-up and clears your Eustachian tube.
A surgical procedure called adenoidectomy is usually recommended for chronic glue ears that don’t clear up even after three months.
The process involves the removal of adenoids – a mass of lymphatic tissues at the back of your nose. These tissues work together with the tonsils to block germs and other bacteria. When an infection occurs, the adenoids enlarge and blocks the Eustachian tube. This prevents the fluid in your middle ear from draining, causing glue ear.
Adenoids usually shrink as we grow old. This is why enlarged adenoids are much more common in children. But some adults may also require adenoidectomy, particularly if there is a possibility of cancer or tumor on the adenoids.
After the surgery, a certain amount of discomfort can be expected. Patients may also notice that their breath smells, which is normal and will go away after a week.
How Probiotics Can Help
For years, experts thought that a blockage in the Eustachian tube primarily causes the glue ear. But a study in 2019 revealed revolutionary information.
Researchers at the University of Auckland dig into how nasal bacteria may indirectly cause glue ear. They found that healthy children have higher levels of non-harmful bacteria than those suffering from glue ear.
They also found that viral infections may harm the pathogens living in your nasal cavities, causing an imbalance in your nasal microbiota. This causes the pathogens to overgrow, leading to glue ear.
To combat this overgrowth, researchers suggest that probiotic supplements may help. Also known as the “good bacteria”, probiotics can help restore the balance in your nasal microbiota. It can also help shift the balance towards the healthy bacteria, which can help prevent glue ear.
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About The Author
Judy Ponio is a professional writer based in the Philippines. Her commitment to communicating factual content in when writing is unmatched. She works hard to cross check reputable sources to ensure her work uses accurate facts.