What are grommets?
Grommets are tiny ventilation tubes shaped liked cotton reels that are inserted into the eardrum in order to allow air to pass freely into the middle ear
When are grommets needed?
The commonest indications for grommet insertion are glue ear and recurrent middle ear infections not responding to medical treatment
What is glue ear?
It is a middle ear effusion that often causes hearing impairment and irritation, and can lead to a middle ear infection (“otitis media”)
How does the grommet work?
It equalises the pressure between the ear canal and the middle ear, thus preventing fluid building up there. It improves the hearing and relieves the discomfort almost immediately
How are grommets inserted?
Under general anaesthesia a small incision is made in the eardrum and the grommet placed in it
What happens to the grommet?
In most cases, it will fall out the ear by itself, usually in 6 to 12 months following the procedure
What to expect after the procedure
• It is not a painful procedure, but there may be some discomfort for the first 24 hours
• Simple pain syrups like Panado or Stopayne can be used if necessary
• In the case of an infection, pain relief may be required for a few days until it settles
• There may be a yellowish-white discharge (sometimes blood-stained) for the 1st few days after the operation, especially if there was infection present
• Sometimes an antibiotic ear drop or syrup will be prescribed
• The discharge is usually a combination of blood, mucous and wax, and is common
• Do not submerge your child’s head underwater whilst bathing
• Use earplugs for hair washing
• No swimming for the 1st 2 weeks following the procedure
• Thereafter, ear plugs and a swimming cap are advised
• Do not dive deep underwater as the increased pressure on the eardrum can be painful
Follow up appointment:
• The ears should be checked approximately 1 month following grommet insertion
• This can be done by your GP or paediatrician as well
• If the hearing was markedly affected before the operation, a repeat hearing test should be done
Cleaning the ears:
• This can be done with a moist facecloth placed over a finger
• DO NOT USE EARBUDS AT ALL