Treatment options for glue ear 


Wait and see

Under a "watchful waiting" regimen, no immediate treatment is given, because the condition often clears up. The child's symptoms are carefully monitored

  • Possible to avoid the need for treatment, as more than 50% of glue ear cases will resolve without treatment in three months, and 90% within a year
  • No risk of side effects or complications
  • Children with moderate to severe hearing loss may experience a slight delay in speech and language development while waiting for symptoms to resolve. However, delays are usually short-lived and most children will quickly catch up

Tubes inserted in the ear that help drain away fluid

  • Can restore normal level of hearing
  • Generally a simple and safe procedure
  • Grommets can often fall out, so further treatment may be needed
  • Can cause fluid discharge from the ear, minor damage to the eardrum or infection
Hearing aids

Electronic device placed inside the ear to improve hearing

  • Improves hearing
  • Minimal risk of side effects or complications


  • Younger children may have problems looking after a hearing aid
  • Older children may feel self-conscious wearing a hearing aid

Where a child inflates a special balloon using their nose to help drain away the fluid in the ear

  • Provides short- to mid-term symptom relief
  • Minimal risk of side effects or complications
  • Doesn't work well in all cases
  • Can be a difficult technique for younger children to perform
  • Must be repeated regularly to be effective

Surgery to remove lumps of tissue (adenoids) from the back of the throat. It's usually only recommended if swollen adenoids are blocking the tube between the back of the throat and middle ear

  • Improves hearing
  • Generally a simple and safe procedure
  • Can cause sore throat, earache, stiff jaw, blocked nose, bad breath, change in voice, bleeding, infection