Research* has shown medicine is usually ineffective in treating glue ear. After glue ear children have been assessed for the severity of their condition, and any
additional risks, it will often be a case of simply ‘watching and waiting’. This is because almost half of all glue ear cases will cure themselves within three months.**


Many parents feel frustrated at not being ‘able to do something’ during the
watchful waiting period, and would like to potentially prevent the need for surgery if at all possible.


Otovent is a small inflation device with balloon which the child blows up using their nose. Otovent equalizes the pressure and relieves the symptoms in the middle ear. The act of blowing up the balloon helps to open up the Eustachian tube, making it easier for fluid to drain from the middle ear. Otovent should be used on a regular basis, three times a day, until all the fluid has been drained away. Patients will often start to see results as early as a few days into using the Otovent.


Otovent autoinflation treatment is a clinically effective, glue ear treatment designed to reduce the need for surgical intervention. It’s convenient, increases chances of a shorter recovery time from glue ear and is the only clinically effective, non-invasive glue ear treatment for use during the ‘watchful waiting’ period. It is available over the counter, but we recommend that all sufferers see their GP before trying Otovent.


It is presently the most common and effective method of treating glue ear, but best results are much more likely in children with more severe and prolonged histories. This procedure occurs under general anaesthetic and usually takes about 15 minutes. During the procedure, a very small ventilation tube – a grommet – is inserted into the child’s ear through a small incision in their
eardrum. The grommet helps to drain away fluid in the middle ear and will also help to maintain the air pressure in the middle ear cavity.

A grommet helps keep the eardrum open for several months. As the eardrum starts to heal, the grommet will slowly be pushed out of the eardrum and, in most cases, eventually falls out. This process happens naturally and should not be painful. The majority of grommets fall out between 6 to 15 months after they have been inserted and about 30% of children may need further grommets inserted in order to fully treat the condition.


It’s not recommended by NICE that your patient takes antibiotics, antihistamines or decongestants for glue ear as they don’t have any significant effect and have a number of disadvantages. There is also the possibility that your patient may have side-effects as a result of taking antibiotics.***

*** BMJ patient leaflet, 2007 (PDF, 63kb)