E-mail: pkollitisis@doctors.org.uk

Grommets

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These are very small tubes that are inserted in the eardrum. This is done under a very quick general anaesthetic. The grommets are inserted after the fluid in the middle ear has been drained away. The grommets allow air to enter the middle ear and stop fluid from accumulating for the length of time they remain in place, which is usually around 9 months to a year. During this period the child's hearing will improve and he may not get so frequent ear infections. Grommets are not a cure for glue ear but they do allow the fluid (glue ear) not to build up whilst the child outgrows the problem. A hearing test is normally done after grommet insertion.

When the grommets fall out, they may need to be reinserted if the child has not grown out of the problem. In fact, it is standard procedure for a child that has had grommets inserted to be seen by the ENT surgeon regularly as they may fall out silently! Sometimes it is recommended that Adenoids be shaved off at the same time as grommet insertion especially if they require reinsertion once fallen out.

After Grommet insertion there is a noticeable difference in the hearing by both the parents and the child. There is no pain after the procedure and the child may go back to school the following day. Occasionally children with grommets get a discharge from their ear, often during or after a cold or after water contamination and this can be managed with antibiotic drops.With regards to swimming with grommets, there is usually no problem particularly sea water but it is advised they refrain from diving. Contamination from dirty soap water should be avoided with ear plugs (cotton-wool ball dipped in Vaseline) although only very few children end up with ear infections.

With grommets in place it is more than safe to fly as the child will not experience any pressure changes.

Very rarely when the grommet falls out (they fall out on their own and do not need an operation for this), a small hole may be left behind which usually heals up with time, but may require another small procedure to heal.

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