Study shows healthy 'nose bugs' could prevent kids' glue ear

Healthy 'nose bugs' may be the answer to preventing a common ear condition in children.

Glue ear is a condition where thick fluid gathers behind the eardrum, and can affect up to 80 percent of kids before they start school.

Now a new study by the University of Auckland shows that children with glue ear have higher levels of 'bad' bugs in their noses compared with healthy children.

Marian Ruri has suffered from it since she was two years old.

"It was embarrassing. I couldn't hear much with it either so that was pretty difficult," Ruri says.

It was so severe for Ruri, that she developed it again in adulthood and had to have surgery.

"I actually started to isolate myself in the end because it was too frustrating," she says.

Lead researcher Rebecca Walker ran the study which looked at chronic glue year, which means it lasts for longer than three months.

"It's the leading cause of childhood deafness, so hearing loss which is associated with learning delays and behavioural problems," Walker says.

The study looked at nose microbes from 73 preschool children with chronic glue ear and compared the type and quantity of nose bacteria with 105 healthy children.

It found that the healthy children had more diverse bacteria in their noses and high levels of non-harmful bacteria.

"It was a really surprising result because most people think of the bacteria as being invasive," Walker says.

Developing a tablet or a nasal spray with the "helpful" bacteria in it could prevent and treat glue ear. And with technology advancing, Walker says those remedies could be personalised.

"Where you go into your GP, they take a swab, they find out what your nasal bacterial makeup is and what the best way to manipulate your nasal bacteria," she says.

If you have temporary hearing loss, pain or discomfort in your ears, the advice is to see a doctor.