Your child’s doctor may recommend grommets if your child has glue ear that won’t clear up, or has frequent ear infections.
Does your child suffer from recurring middle ear infections? Ear infections can affect your child’s hearing, speaking, and cognitive ability. Thankfully, grommets may be the answer! Learn more here…
What exactly are grommets?
Grommets are tiny tubes implanted into the eardrum under general anaesthesia to drain excess fluid in the middle ear.
What is glue ear?
There are three components to the ear: the outer ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear. When sound waves reach the ear canal, the eardrum begins to vibrate. The sound then travels through the middle ear, the three little bones of hearing (ossicles), and into the fluid-filled inner ear.
The auditory nerve carries a nerve impulse to the brain that is triggered by the movement of fluid inside the cochlea, which activates the hair cells within the cochlea. The brain subsequently interprets these nerve impulses as sound.
Most ear infections in children are caused by the Eustachian tube not functioning properly. Typically, the Eustachian tube maintains equal air pressure on both sides of the eardrum. If the tube is obstructed, the air pressure in the middle ear will decrease. The surrounding tissue drains liquid into the middle ear. This fluid becomes sticky over time and prevents the eardrum and ossicles from vibrating normally.
Persistent middle ear infections might result in sticky ear, also known as glue ear.
With glue ear, the eustachian tube that links the middle ear to the back of the neck is unable to discharge extra middle ear fluid in a child. Over time, this fluid accumulates and becomes thick and “gluey.” Glue ear can cause hearing difficulties, speech problems, balance issues, and chronic irritation.
Grommets, also known as ventilation tubes and tympanostomy tubes, let air enter the middle ear and drain fluid to the back of the nose and throat without causing pain.
What should I anticipate following my child’s surgery?
A tiny amount of seeping or bleeding from the ear for one or two days following surgery is common.
A hearing test will confirm hearing restoration immediately after surgery. Hearing is often returned rapidly following grommet insertion. Your child may require more testing if hearing has not returned to normal.
After surgery, mild discomfort can be alleviated with over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol. Remember to always follow the packaging directions when giving your child medication.
How should I take care of my child’s grommets?
One of the potential side-effects of grommets is water-related ear infections. Water can enter the middle ear cavity, so until the grommets come out and the eardrums recover, it is preferable to keep your child’s ears water-free. Follow your surgeon’s recommendations for how to prevent water from entering your child’s ears while the grommets are in place.
Can grommets fall out?
Depending on the grommet’s size, shape, and substance (some are made from plastic, others from metal), grommets typically fall out when your child is six to twelve months old. Regular ear examinations will determine if your child’s grommets have fallen out.
After the grommet is removed, the hole in the eardrum often heals rapidly. In some children, fluid may accumulate again, necessitating the reinsertion of grommet tubes.
Good to know: Contact your doctor if your child has severe discomfort or if oozing or bleeding persists for more than five days. There may be an ear infection or a minor rupture in the eardrum.