£100 hearing kit sold to cyclists could spare thousands of children with ‘glue ear’ from needing surgery to get their hearing back, study suggests

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  • Bone conducting earphones can be used to help kids with glue ears
  • Most young people will get the condition, which can lead to temporary hearing problems.
  • More than 90 percent of parents said their child’s hearing improved with the kit

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Scientists say thousands of children with ‘glue ear’ can be operated on with the help of wireless kits used by cyclists.

The condition, which affects up to 80 percent of young people, usually goes away on its own in a few days or weeks.

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But if deafness hinders their learning and development, children may need A small tube is placed in his ear under general anaesthetic. Grommets, as they are known, drain the excess fluid that causes glue ear.

Researchers say the kit reduces hearing difficulties caused by the condition, paving the way for children to avoid the operation.

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More than 90 percent of parents claimed that their child’s hearing became ‘normal’ or ‘slightly below normal’ when using the kit. None of them required grommets, according to the study published in British Medical Journal Innovation.

Experts from Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust sent Bone conducting earphones and a wireless Bluetooth microphone (pictured) to families to determine if the Glu Ear can be self-managed.

In the three months prior to the study, 73 percent of parents said their child had 'poor' or 'very poor' hearing.  But the youth's hearing improved after using the kit, with 92.3 percent of parents saying their child's hearing had returned to 'normal' or 'slightly below normal'.

Three months before the study, 73 percent of parents said their child had ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ hearing. But the youth’s hearing improved after using the kit, with 92.3 percent of parents saying their child’s hearing had returned to ‘normal’ or ‘slightly below normal’.

The wireless kit consists of bone-conducting earphones, a Bluetooth microphone, and an app about the Glue Ears.

The earphones connect to the microphone and transmit sound that is transmitted through the skull bone in the form of vibrations directly to the inner ear, except for the area where fluid builds up from position.

Bone conducting earphones cost around £100 and are commonly used by cyclists so they can still hear the sounds around them, as well as the audio from their phones.

What is glue ear?

Glue ear occurs when the ear canal fills with fluid after a cold, cough, or infection.

It usually gets better on its own within weeks, but can cause hearing loss in the meantime.

If symptoms don’t get better on their own, or it affects a child’s learning and development, their GP may refer them for treatment.

The two main treatments are temporary hearing aids or grommets – a small tube inserted into the ear.

The grommets drain the fluid, keep the eardrum open and fall out naturally within six to 12 months as the baby’s ear gets better.

Hearing loss is the most common symptom of gum ear, along with ear pain and a ringing sound.

One in 10 children starting school in the UK suffers from hearing loss due to glue in the ear.

And 80 percent of young people suffer from the condition at some point.

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Glue ear is a condition in which the empty middle part of the ear canal fills with fluid.

One in 10 children starting school in the UK suffers from hearing loss due to glue in the ear.

But if hearing problems are affecting a child’s learning and development, they can be fitted with temporary hearing aids or grommets.

Hearing aids, which can cost up to £3,000, are ‘not an easy solution’ as it usually requires several appointments to set its volume correctly as the child’s hearing improves.

Around 30,000 people in the UK have grommet surgery each year.

And about a third of children develop an infection after the procedure, which can rupture the eardrum or cause permanent scarring.

Researchers from Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust tested the kit on 26 children with glue ear. All were between three and 11 years old.

Children put on earphones at home and school while their parents or teachers talk into the microphone.

Parents answered questions about their children’s hearing before and after using the kit.

Three months before the study, 73 percent of parents said their child had ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ hearing.

And 88.5 percent revealed that their child struggles to hear ‘often’ or ‘always’ when in a group.

But with the use of the kit the youth’s hearing improved, with 92.3 percent of parents saying their child’s hearing had dropped to ‘normal’ or ‘slightly below normal’.

And 84.6 percent said they ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ have a hearing problem in the group.

Medics, led by Tamsin Marie Holland Brown, said the use of the kit improved hearing in children at a critical stage of their development.

The team claimed they also reduced travel to appointments with young children, helped children hear better and saved the NHS money.

But he noted that the study was short-lived and involved only a small group of affected youth.

Nonetheless, experts said the kit is a ‘new, innovative and effective way to manage glue ear’.

There was no control group receiving standard care to compare results.

The study took place during the first wave of the pandemic when children’s audiology services and grommet operations ‘stopped completely’.

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