Posted by: Genevieve | 2011-02-18

Glue ear and nose bleeds

My son turned 2 in January. He had glue ear for the last year. We have been to doctor twice and specialist once. they said that we shoud have gromets inserted if this persist. The last time it happened was in September, the start of spring. Now, for the last two months, he has been suffering with this nose bleeds. It happens once or twice a weak while sleeping. Sometimes, I only notice this when the blood is dry already. He is not crabby or anything. The bedding and pillows are sometimes soaked in blood and still he does not make a sound. I am very concerned and need to do something about this as I fear that he might choke on his blood as he sleeps on his back at times. Is it normal for this to happen during those hot summer nights? Should we get a humidifier or should we rather go and get a scan or xray done? I have been trying to read up on this and everyone seems to think that this is something that they will outgrow and it freaks me out completely. What would you advise?

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Our expert says:
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Dear Genevieve

Otitis Media with Effusion (also known as glue ears) is a common condition affecting small children, largely due to the shape and position of the Eustachian tube. Other factors playing a role could be persistent upper respiratory tract infections, allergies, anatomical defects of the soft palate, and environmental factors. It is however, very difficult to find a clear set of causes in every child. The main concern is the effect it has on your childs hearing, as this condition leads to a so called conductive hearing loss, which may be devestating to your childs future speech developement, and ultimately listenning skills. These are all factors that present at schoolgoing age, often leading to problems in the early schoolgoing years. It is important to remember that children suffering from OME are often asymptomatic, and this makes it difficult to diagnose from a parental point of view. The reason why you ENT suggested the waiting period, is that up to 80% children suffering from OME may clear up in three months time. It is therefore just as important to see your ENT after the three months period to make sure the condition has cleared.
Not reacting to the problem if it persists is devestating to your childs developement. An important tool to help with the decicionmaking, is to ask for an audiogram on your child, done by an audiologist used to testing such small children. If hearing loss is noted, and this correlates with an extended period of OME, grommtes should be considered.

Nosebleeds are common in children, and allergies are a contibuting factor as it causes the nose to itch. This results in scratcing (even in their sleep), and a nosebleed is the result. The bleeding in children commonly occur in the front part of the nasal septum, your ENT should evaluate this, as it may be managed with an ointment, and failing this, chemical cautery may be done. Burning of the area is painful, and if considered, should rather be done under anaesthetic in young patients. Your ENT will advise. The bleeding is ususally from the front of the nose, so it runs out of the front, and very little usually goes down the back. If underlying allergies are to blame, this requires treatment.

Lastely, doing any form of X-ray or CT on a growing child in the head and neck area should be well motivated for, as the amount of radiation exposure must be considered in such a young child. Your ENT will only require this after serious consideration. Children also have very different anatomy to an adult, so the possible information that you may potentially gain could be limited indeed.


The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

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