Glue Ear: Guide

Katy Mitchell | View as single page | Feedback/Impact


Glue Ear is most common between the ages of 2 and 4 years.  During a critical period for language development, the frustration of not understanding or being misunderstood, can result in behavioural problems.  Wilks et al. (2000) found that 55% of pre-school children who had Glue Ear for 3 months or more, presented with behavioural problems.

Parents of children who have experienced Glue Ear convey that it has had an impact on their behaviour.  Some children become isolated and withdrawn because they are unable to follow the conversation. Others become frustrated and disruptive.  The additional listening effort can be very tiring for a young child and may lead to more frequent temper tantrums.

A child with Glue Ear may appear to be naughty, simply because they have not heard instructions and respond inappropriately.

Some children will ‘switch off’ and appear to be in a world of their own as they are unable to access speech.  Others become dominant, controlling the conversation, without giving others a chance to have their turn.

Listening will be hard work and tiring, so a child with Glue Ear may find it hard to concentrate and be easily distracted.


Richman, N. (1997) Is a behaviour checklist for pre-school children useful? in Epidemiological Approaches to Child Psychiatry, pp 125-137.  Academic Press, London

Wilks, J.. Maw, R., Peters, T., Harvey, I., Golding,J. (2000) ‘Randomised controlled trial of early surgery versus watchful waiting for Glue Ear: the effect on behavioural problems in preschool children’. Clinical Otolaryngology, June, Volume 25, Issue 3 pp. 169-240.