Fluids in the middle ear are liable to accumulate during viral disease, and in most cases will disappear after a few weeks without any need for treatment.

However, in a fair proportion of children aged 3-5, parents and kindergarten teachers often notice a prolonged reduction in hearing. A doctor’s examination reveals fluids in the middle ear. This is indeed the most common reason for hearing reduction at this age. In most cases there is no connection to any viral disease and the problem is connected more to the structure and functioning of the middle ear, particularly to the natural process of air entering the ear through the tube that connects the middle ear to the back of the nose.

To diagnose the extent of hearing loss and to prove that it is indeed related to fluids in the ear, doctors refer children to a hearing test.

Various treatments have been tested in numerous studies, including drugs against allergies (to dry the mucus and the ears), antibiotics and steroids, but no one solution has been found that can solve the problem for any sustained length of time.

It is clear that significant hearing reduction damages children’s development, how they learn language and their speech. Therefore, if your child has fluids in the ear with a clear reduction in hearing, and it lasts for more than three months, you should consult an ENT specialist regarding an ear tubes (buttons) operation.

This operation, performed under general anesthetic, involves implanting thin plastic tubes into the ear drum. The tubes allow air into the middle ear and so bypass the accumulated fluids. The tubes remain in place for between six months and a year and usually come out by themselves. Sometimes, if symptoms recur, a child may need more than one set of tubes. Regular checks by your ENT doctor are recommended.

As long as the tubes are in place, the child must be careful not to allow water into his or her ears, which can cause infections. This can be easily remedied by putting cotton wool dipped in Vaseline at the ear’s opening when showering, or by purchasing a rubber plug customized to the child’s ear. Similarly, without these precautions, we recommend the child does not put his or her head under water when swimming.