News : 2016 : December

UHealth Pediatric ENT Expert Warns of Glue Ear

Ear, nose and throat specialists, as well as pediatricians, regularly treat young patients for ear infections. Yet many of these same experts are less familiar with glue ear, known to clinicians as otitis media with effusion or secretory otitis media. Glue ear is a condition where accumulated fluid behind the ear drum becomes thick and sticky, ultimately affecting a child’s hearing.

The condition recently gained prominence when 2-year-old Nicolly Pereira, from Brazil, who was thought to be deaf, was diagnosed with glue ear. She was successfully treated by Ramzi Younis, M.D., head of pediatric otolaryngology at UHealth – the University of Miami Health System, and was able to hear her mother speak for the first time. For about 80 percent of children with ear infections, fluid behind the eardrum dissolves naturally within 2 weeks. Smaller percentage of children, like Pereira, develops glue ear.

“Because the child does not exhibit pain, many physicians incorrectly assume that the patient is not suffering from hearing loss. The patient might complain of sounds being muffled, and parents may believe that their child is ignoring them when, in fact, they are not being heard.” said Younis.

The greatest threats glue ear poses to pediatric patients are behavioral problems and delays in speech and language development. While in some cases patience is warranted, as the condition can resolve itself with time, if the patient has glue ear for longer than three to six months, a pediatric ENT expert may recommend implantation of tympanostomy or ventilation tubes. This simple outpatient procedure is extremely effective in creating an exit point for the fluid buildup, resolving glue ear.

To refer a patient call 1-844-900-UMMD (8663) or submit a referral online at ummd.org.