Preventing glue ear 

As the cause of glue ear isn't fully understood, there's no known way of preventing it.

However, research has shown that the risk of babies and young children developing glue ear can be reduced by:

  • breastfeeding your baby, rather than bottle feeding them 
  • bringing your child up in a smoke-free environment, which includes making sure your child avoids close contact with people who smoke (passive smoking)


The exact reason why breastfeeding reduces the risk of glue ear is unknown, but it's thought that breast milk contains proteins that help reduce inflammation inside the Eustachian tube.

Read more about the benefits of breastfeeding.

Passive smoking

Research has shown that a child's risk of getting glue ear is increased if they're often in a smoky environment. It's recommended that a child's environment is smoke-free, both inside and outside the home.

Not smoking is the best way to protect your child. However, if you smoke, always try to smoke outside. Smoking in another room can still affect your child's health, because smoke travels easily from one room to another, and the toxic chemicals produced can stay in the air for several hours.

Not smoking around your children also has many other important health benefits for your children. For example, it reduces their risk of:

If you decide to stop smoking, your GP can refer you to an NHS Smokefree service, which can provide help and advice about the best ways to give up.

You can also call the free NHS Smoking Helpline on 0300 123 1044 (Monday to Friday 9am to 8pm, weekends 11am to 4pm). Specially trained helpline staff can offer free expert advice and encouragement.

Read more about stop smoking treatments.

Page last reviewed: 04/06/2015

Next review due: 04/06/2017