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Otitis Media – Glue Ear

Otitis Media – Glue Ear

Otitis Media – Glue Ear

Chronic otitis media also known as glue ear occurs when fluid accumulates in the middle ear as a result of poor drainage of the Eustachian tubes. It often occurs in children after recurrent bouts of acute ear infections where the mucous membrane continues to produce fluid.

Over time the fluid may become thick and glue-like, hence the term ‘glue ear’.

Glue ear affects 20-40% of children under 6 and is often associated with food or environmental allergies (85-93% of these children have allergies).

Glue ear is more common in children due to anatomy of Eustachian tubes, which is narrower and more horizontal than in adults.

Causes / Risk factors of Glue ear

  • Recurrent episodes acute otitis media
  • Food or environmental allergies
  • Gut dysbiosis / bacterial overgrowth
  • Poor weaning – early introduction of wheat and dairy
  • Recurrent antibiotic use
  • Early entry into child care
  • Eustachian tube dysfunction: may be caused by recurrent sinus infections

Signs & symptoms of Glue Ear

  • Deafness or feeling of fullness in ear


  • Identify / eliminate food and environmental triggers
  • Reduce inflammation and mucous production
  • Balance immune system
  • Improve digestive function and optimise gut flora

Diet plan guidelines to support Glue Ear

  • Identify/remove allergenic foods: wheat and dairy are major factors
  • Emphasise anti-inflammatory foods: in cold-water oily fish, berries, nuts and seeds, turmeric, ginger, green tea, olive oil
  • Minimise pro-inflammatory foods: sugar, refined carbohydrates,
  • Increase mucolytic foods: garlic, onion, watercress, horseradish, mustard, parsley, celery, lemons
  • Onion syrup (sliced onion covered with raw honey – allow to sit for 3-4 hours): 1 tsp 3 x day

Supplements that support Glue Ear   

  • Vitamin C + bioflavonoids: anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, immune support
  • Vitamin A: tone and repair mucous membranes
  • Zinc: immune support
  • Probiotics
  • Thymus extract: may be useful in children with chronic otitis media

Herbal medicine treatment for Glue Ear

  • Mucous membrane tonics: goldenseal, barberry
  • Clear congestion: cayenne, eyebright, goldenseal, goldenrod, ground ivy, plantago
  • Alteratives: cleavers, pokeroot
  • Support immune function: Echinacea, astragalus, baptisia
  • Reduce allergic response: albizzia, baical skullcap, chamomile


Most children and adults with chronic ear infections and sinus problems have underlying issues with their gut and digestive system.  Nearly all have food sensitivities and issues with intestinal permeability. 

Investigating and treating these underlying causes while being mindful of diet and lifestyle is required to heal and prevent future recurrent episodes. 

At our Perth clinic of Advanced Functional Medicine we have experience with chronic ear infections and chronic sinus complications.

If you or a family member are require assistance with chronic ear infections such as glue ear or other chronic sinus infections we would love to hear from you. 

Do you have allergies contributing to your ear complications?  How do you best reduce fluid build-up in the ear?   Please write a comment below.

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The above information is intended to be general, educational advice only, on topics which are of interest to us. It is not intended to represent specific or individual health or medical advice and is not specific to your situation. The below information is educative and is not intended to advertise any service.

Before making any decisions in relation to your health, you should always discuss your individual situation with your own health practitioners to ensure that any advice you have read is right for you.

Jarrod Cooper – ND

Jarrod Cooper – ND

Jarrod Cooper - ND is the founder of Advanced Functional Medicine Australia. He is a Naturopathic Doctor with extensive functional medicine training from leading practitioners in the USA and worldwide.

He is leading the way with advancements of functional medicine, clinically implementing worldwide best practices in Functional Medicine throughout Australia.

Jarrod consults in person from Perth, Western Australia and also online via Telehealth throughout Australia and worldwide.

If you are looking for personalised treatment, we highly recommend contacting Jarrod Cooper’s Advanced Functional Medicine clinic in Australia.

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