Grommets / Ventilation Tubes

Purpose:          The purpose of the grommet is to ensure ventilation of the middle ear, i.e. to let air flow from outside into the middle ear. Normally this ventilation would be performed via the Eustachian tube that runs from the middle ear to the back of the nose.  However, in a diseased ear the function of this tube can become poor. If this situation does not resolve spontaneously or on medication a grommet may be indicated.

In a sick ear pus can also flow out through the grommet although this is not its primary function.  Pus is an indicator of infection and should be treated. If this is the case, please contact your doctor immediately.

Operation:       For children the procedure is performed under general anesthesia. In adults it can be performed under local anesthesia in the rooms. Usually there is immediate relief post-operatively after insertion of the grommet(s). Slight pain or discomfort may occur and can be treated with painkillers. Your doctor may prescribe ear drops which can flow through the grommet into the middle ear. During the first few days after the operation bloodstained pus might flow from the ear – if this persists and your doctor did not prescribe ear drops, please inform him of this discharge.

Follow-up:       Please visit your doctor 10-14 days after the procedure to confirm that everything is in order. Should there be any problems before that time, e.g. a discharge that persists in spite of treatment, you should contact your doctor earlier.

Important: The ear should be dry and without pus if the grommet is functioning and the ear healthy.

Long Term:     A grommet will stay in the ear for anything from 3 months up to five years, depending on the type of grommet and the individual response of the patient. The normal period is about 10-12 months.

It will fall out spontaneously after this time.  If a grommet does not fall out of the ear the patient is followed up for some time before the surgeon might consider removing the grommet.

Should ear symptoms (deafness, blocked feeling, earache, pulling of the ears, or a discharge) occur, please consult your Doctor.  Showering, bathing, washing of hair and swimming normally do not cause any problems as very little water reaches the eardrum and if so is not under pressure.  Diving or swimming deep under the water should be discouraged as this might force water through the grommet into the middle ear. These patients should wear earplugs when swimming.

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