It is common for children with cleft palate to have associated problems with the middle ear. Most of these problems are caused by a malfunctioning of the Eustachian tubes which are small passages that lead from the middle ear to the throat. Their function is to allow pressure to equalize on the inside of the eardrum or tympanic membrane. They also serve to drain any fluid that may accumulate in the middle ear. Yawning allows air to pass through the Eustachian tubes to relieve pressure on the eardrum.
When the Eustachian tubes are not functioning properly, fluid can build up in the middle ear, causing discomfort and temporary or even permanent hearing loss.
Treatment of Eustachian tube problems is by surgical placement of “ear tubes” called grommet tubes. These small plastic tubes are placed in the ear drum to allow normal ventilation and to drain fluid from the middle ear. With surgical treatment and continued regular assessment and care hearing loss can be prevented .