Glue ear is a common childhood condition in which the middle ear becomes filled with fluid. It can cause deafness and repeated earache or infections.
A grommet is a very small tube that is inserted into your child’s ear through a small cut in their eardrum. Grommets can help drain away fluid in the middle ear and maintain air pressure.
Grommets are inserted during an operation called a grommet insertion. This procedure is carried out under general anaesthetic (where your child is asleep and doesn’t feel any pain). It usually only takes about 15 minutes, so your child should be able to go home the same day.
During the first few days after surgery, your child may find that noises sound much louder than they are used to. This is normal and should pass as your child gets used to having a normal level of hearing.
A grommet will help keep the eardrum open for several months. As the eardrum starts to heal, the grommet will slowly be pushed out of the eardrum and will eventually fall out. This process happens naturally and should not be painful. Most grommets will fall out within 6-12 months of being inserted. Around one child in three will need further grommets.
What are the risks?
Although grommet insertion is generally a simple and safe procedure, as with all types of surgery there is a risk of complications. These include developing an ear infection or a small hole in the ear drum (perforated ear drum).
Ask your consultant to explain how any risks might apply to your child.