What are grommets?
Grommets are also called “ventilating tubes”. They are placed into the eardrum to help air enter the middle ear (the space behind the eardrum). They also help fluid in the middle ear to drain out.
Who might benefit from grommets?
If you suffer frequent recurrent acute middle ear infections and/or middle ear fluid in both ears causing hearing loss which does not improve with time grommets might be helpful.
How are grommets inserted?
They are usually inserted under general anaesthetic as day surgery. A small cut is made in the eardrum and the grommet is placed into the eardrum.
What can I expect during the recovery period?
There may be some discomfort the first few days which can be helped by pain relief tablets or syrup. Fluid may drain out and may be blood-tinged initially. Ear drops may be needed.
What happens afterwards?
A post-operative review in 2-3 weeks will be arranged. After that you should have a check up and a hearing test every 6 months until the grommets fall out.
Grommets stay in an average of six to nine months and usually gradually fall out by themselves as the eardrum heals. There are longer staying grommets but the longer the grommets stay in the greater the risk of a chronic perforation.
While the grommets are in place water should be kept out of the ears in the shower and while swimming with ear plugs. You should not dive while the grommets are still in. Flying in a plane should not cause problems.
Complications to think about
- allergic reactions ranging from mild to life-threatening can occur. Please discuss them in detail with the Anaesthetic Specialist who will contact you before the surgery
- this is fairly common especially after a cold
scarring or thinning of the eardrum
- this can also be the result of repeated ear infections
grommet not falling out
- if the grommet does not fall out after 2 years it may need to be removed under general anaesthetic
- in some cases even if the grommet falls out the eardrum may not heal over. An operation may be needed in the future to repair the perforation.