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The unfortunate thing is that many of the kids with glue ear are never diagnosed. This is because they have only low grade allergies and colds that go unnoticed. Because these kids are only mildly afflicted they tend not to exhibit the overt allergy, Candida and cold symptoms of sneezing, runny or stuffy nose. The raised body temperature that accompanies daily activities dilates their nasal passages sufficiently to facilitate normal breathing. It’s only at night when they’re asleep and their body temperature drops do they commence the mouth breathing that aids the flow of mucus to the ear and dries out the throat, leaving it prone to infection.

These are the kids who fall behind in class because they can’t hear properly. Because their glue ear has never been diagnosed they are often labelled ‘a bit dumb’ by the other kids and ‘uncooperative, rebellious, lazy and given to dumb insolence’ by the teachers. Kids with this level of glue ear who are lucky enough to sit at the front of the class tend to get by. It’s the ones sitting further back who miss out. The introverts tend to cope by withdrawing further into themselves while the extroverts respond by venting their frustrations in the form of overt attention seeking, disruption of others in class and fighting in the playground. Because this low grade glue ear doesn’t lead to headaches or noticeable ear infections the way full-blown glue ear does, these kids muddle their way through school in the belief they are not as intelligent as the others.

They seldom mention to their parents the fact they’re having trouble hearing in class because they don’t realise they are. Because they know no different they think their level of hearing is perfectly normal. Unlike their counterparts who have all the symptoms of full-blown glue ear and receive help these kids/ adults struggle through life never reaching their full potential and never really knowing why.

As parents, uncles, aunts, friends, teachers and godparents its our duty to keep our eyes open for these kids and to get them into treatment as soon as possible. Often the only give-away signs are below average intellectual performance at school (comprehension, maths, writing, English) associated with one or more of the following:

• dark rings under the eyes;

• below average physical co-ordination;

• below average ball-handling skills (they are the last to be chosen when picking sides for football, netball, cricket);

• the habit of rubbing the nose with the palm of the hand (nasal salute);

• complaining of an itchy nose (as opposed to a runny or stuffy nose);

• the tendency to fatigue easily (wants to lie down or sit and watch TV after school; often tired on waking);

• a transverse ridge or crease in the nose (due to constant nasal saluting);

• shy, quiet, daydreamy personality; seems to be in his/her own world; appears switched off and doesn’t always respond when called or spoken to; has trouble getting started on things; gives up easily (introverts); <

• aggressive, stroppy personality; low frustration tolerance; can’t concentrate; loud; won’t listen; often ignores (extroverts).

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