Glue ear is a very common condition in children. It consists of a build-up of sticky fluid in the ear, and through the insertion of grommets (small plastic tubes) behind the eardrum, air can pass through into the ear and therefore allow the fluid to drain, and subsequently improve hearing.
Why you might need it
Glue ear can cause repeated earaches, infections or deafness in one or both ears, as well as discharge from the ears. The most common symptom of needing grommets is hearing loss. You may notice your children turning the television or music up louder that is usual, struggling to hear and as a result not taking part in conversations or frequently asking people to repeat what they have said.
You will have a consultation with an ENT consultant, during which you can discuss the symptoms and any questions or concerns that you may have. Your consultant will also discuss any other diagnostic tests that may be required, for example, blood tests or scans.
Our caring and dedicated staff understand that this may be an anxious time for your child and you, and will be there for you throughout the process to help you however possible, and you will be able to accompany your child to the operating theatre and stay with them until they are asleep.
Grommets are usually fitted under general anaesthesia, and occasionally older children may have grommets inserted under local anaesthesia. The consultant will make a small hole in the eardrum and remove the fluid by suction.
They will then place the grommet in the hole, allowing the air to pass and the fluid to drain.
Following the procedure your child will be taken from the operating theatre to a recovery room, to come round from the anaesthesia under the supervision of our experienced staff to make them feel as comfortable as possible.
Your child may experience some earache, but often there is no pain. If your child has an earache, you can give them paracetamol or ibuprofen. Always make sure to carefully follow the instructions on the packet provided.
Other than swimming, your child can return to normal activities following the procedure after 24 hours.
There may be a little blood-stained discharge from the ear, but this is normal. Once the grommets are in place, the fluid in the eardrum should clear up. As the eardrum heals the body will naturally push the grommet out into the ear tube, usually this happens over a period of 6 to 12 months. Sometimes the grommet does not come out by itself and may have to be removed with another small operation.
Our dedicated team will still be there for you during each step of your recovery, even once you have left the hospital if you have any queries or concerns. Our consultants will usually book a follow-up appointment with you before you are discharged from hospital, to see how you are doing.
Whilst it is rare occurrence, surgery does carry a risk of complications. These depend on the type of operation you have as well as a variety of other factors such as your overall general health. During your consultation/s your consultant will discuss the possible risks and complications of having this procedure, and how they may apply to you, and answer any concerns or questions you have.
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