Skip to main content
Glue ear

Glue ear is where the empty middle part of the ear canal fills up with fluid. It’s more common in children but adults can sometimes get it too.

The main symptom of glue ear is temporary loss of hearing in 1 or both ears.

Glue ear often gets better on its own. If needed, a GP may suggest treatment to drain the fluid, such as blowing up a small balloon using your nose.

Read more on the NHS website.

The main symptom of glue ear is temporary loss of hearing in 1 or both ears.

Check if it's glue ear

The most common symptom of glue ear is temporary hearing loss. It can affect both ears at the same time.

Other symptoms may include:

Glue ear is much more common in children, but adults with glue ear have the same symptoms.

Read more on the NHS website.

Glue ear often gets better on its own. If needed, a GP may suggest treatment to drain the fluid, such as blowing up a small balloon using your nose.

Medical treatments

Glue ear is not always treated. Your GP will usually wait and see if the symptoms get better on their own.

This is because there's no effective medicine for glue ear, and it often clears up on its own within 3 months.

They may still monitor your child for up to a year in case the symptoms change or get worse.

Your GP may suggest trying a treatment called autoinflation while waiting for symptoms to improve. Autoinflation can help fluid in the ear to drain.

It's done by either:

  • blowing up a special balloon using one nostril at a time
  • swallowing while holding the nostrils closed

As autoinflation has to be done several times a day, it's not usually recommended for children under 3 years old.

If glue ear causes an ear infection, your GP may prescribe antibiotics.

Read more on the NHS website.