OME, otherwise known as ‘Glue Ear’, is
the collection of fluid in the middle ear.
It occurs commonly in children and
studies show up to 60% of children
have at least one episode by the age
It frequently occurs after an upper
respiratory tract infection and in the
majority of cases, it resolves by itself.
However, the length of time for this
resolution varies and may take up to
Older children often complain of
earache and hearing loss. Younger
ones may become fussy, sleep poorly,
and often pull and tug at their ear.
However, most of the time the children
are unaware of the hearing loss. The
caregiver may notice that the child
turns up the volume of the radio/
TV or is not attentive during normal
conversation. Teachers may also complain that the child is inattentive
during lessons or is doing poorly in
When symptoms of hearing loss persist, particularly at a time when a child is learning to speak, medical evaluation and treatment are recommended.
Hearing loss is the single most important cause of a child having delayed speech.
To improve Eustachian tube function, a variety of medication may be used. Antibiotics, decongestants and nasal sprays (if nasal allergy co-exists) are the more common ones.
If this fails, surgical options will then be explored. For children, the operations performed are Myringotomy and Tube insertion (M&T) with or without adenoidectomy.
M&T is done under general anaesthesia as a day surgery. This simple procedure generally takes about 15 minutes and involves making a cut on the eardrum and placing a tiny ventilation tube through it. This then allows ventilation of the middle ear.
Possible admission to the hospital is required only when adenoidectomy is done as well. The child will be required to fast overnight i.e. no food or drink after 12 midnight before the operation.
For a younger child, a shorter period of
fasting may be sufficient, depending
on the anaesthetist’s assessment.
If your child has a fever or cough just
before the surgery, you must inform
your doctor about it. The surgery may
need to be postponed if your child
is found unfit for surgery. If the child
has any history, or family history of
bleeding disorders, or any previous
problems with anaesthesia, it must be
brought to the doctor’s attention.
Soon after the surgery, your child
might still be sleepy, and may
vomit from the effects of general
anaesthesia. Your child will be allowed
to drink water a few hours later, and
eating is resumed depending on the
An immediate improvement in
hearing should follow after the
After discharge there is no dietary
restriction, and normal diet and
oral hygiene may be resumed.
The ventilation tubes placed through
the eardrum will be expelled
automatically in 6 months’ to a year’s
time. Although expelled from the
eardrum, the tube may remain in the
ear canal, and may need removal by
the doctor during a follow-up visit.
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