Glue ear and Grommets

The middle ear is normally filled with air. Glue ear is where the middle ear fills with glue like fluid causing reduced hearing.

Where there are concerns about hearing, schooling and speech development a small operation under general anaesthetic can be performed to insert a ventilation tube called a grommet.


Are small plastic hollow tubes that are fitted into the ear drum to aid drainage of fluid and restore ventilation thus preventing chronic ear and hearing problems.

Grommets fall out naturally after 12 months or so, as the ear drum grows. The ear drum heals quickly and in most cases the glue ear problems resolve.

Indications for fitting grommets

  • Persistent otitis media with 'glue ear' and hearing loss for 3 or more months. The hearing loss in the better ear being 25/30 dB or worse.
  • Where any hearing loss and ear infections impact on a child's development.

After care advice after grommet insertion

Grommets remain in place from approximately 4 - 12 months, which allows the fluid within the middle ear to drain away.

Any hearing loss will be monitored and evaluated with hearing test (audiogram) and the specialist ENT doctor will check the ear approximately 1 month after the surgery, then every 4 months.

Monitoring is necessary in order to make sure that the ear drum heals and no complications occur.

Risks relating to having grommets fitted

  • The risks are moderate: tears, ear drum perforation, the tube falling into the drum cavity, trauma to the ear and discharge from the ears.
  • Risks related to a general anaesthetic

Removing Grommets

Grommets remain in place for approximately 10 to 12 months.

Some remain in place for more than 18 months.

Grommets commonly fall out on their own or if necessary be removed by an ENT specialist during a consultation.
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