Medical concerns no matter how big or small can be completely overwhelming, especially when there is an associated risk of the effect on learning and development.
I recently visited the doctors to have my 18 month old vaccinated and was complaining about the fact that he had been sick on and off for months – thanks daycare germs! Whether it’s been a runny nose, rattly chest or cough – there has always been something bothering him.
I hadn’t been overly concerned about any of the symptoms, however it got us onto the topic of speech and development. My little guy is a good talker but when he talks it isn’t always clear. I simply put this down to the fact us mothers usually only understand our little ones in the early stages of talking, but then the doctor suggested that it could be related to his colds. She explained that there is a risk of hearing and speech being affected if there is something restricting them.
Whilst we didn’t present with any immediate concern of glue ear or ear infections, we are going to keep a close eye on things. I have since spoken with quite a few mums that had experienced glue ear and gone down the grommets path as a result.
One mum even went on to say that Grommets had significantly changed her son’s life!
So what is Glue Ear?
Glue Ear occurs when the Eustachian tube (which runs from the back of the nose to the middle ear) is too narrow to drain properly. As a result, sticky fluid builds up in the middle ear, potentially leaving your child semi-deaf and in pain, and prone to further infection. Approximately 70 percent of children will experience Glue Ear at some point in early development.
What are the symptoms of Glue Ear?
As a result of prolonged periods of time with hearing loss, your child will likely experience difficulty with their speech and language development. Some simple signs of Glue Ear are things such as: needing the TV turned up more than ever before, appearing not to pay attention, problems with balance, irritability and general pain.
If you are concerned, be sure to reach out to a healthcare professional.
What are Grommets?
A Grommet is a tiny tube that is inserted into the eardrum, to allow air to enter the middle ear. A Grommet does the work that the poorly functioning Eustachian tube should be doing, giving the middle ear a chance to recover. The simple surgical procedure is called a myringotomy, where a small cut is made in the eardrum and any existing fluid is suctioned out – usually taking between 10 to 20 minutes. The procedure is done under a general anaesthetic, and it is not likely that your child needs to stay in hospital overnight.
Grommets won’t cause any discomfort whilst in place. They will usually fall out on their own in 6 to 12 months (longer for older children), leaving no permanent damage to the eardrum.
Caring for a child with Grommets
There shouldn’t be any significant pain or discomfort after the operation, however the ear may slightly ooze or bleed for the first 1 or 2 days.
After the Grommets are inserted, it is important to ensure water doesn’t get into the ears until the eardrum is completely healed. Be wary of heated pools, spas, rivers, lakes and even bath water. Try to keep your child’s ears as dry as possible whilst they recover. If this is too difficult, then ear plugs may be required when showering or bathing and swimming should be avoided for at leastthe first week after the Grommets are inserted.
If your child was having problems with their hearing previously, it is a good idea to have it tested soon after the Grommets have been inserted. Most children will heal well and have a chance at fully recovering with their hearing after the procedure.
Will my child still get ear infections?
Grommets usually eliminate recurring ear infections however, if you see yellow fluid coming out of your child’s ear, it is always advised that you see your family doctor as soon as possible.