Does my child have to have grommets?
Glue ear tends to get better by itself, but this can take a while. We like to leave children alone for the first three months, because about half of them will get better in this time. After three months, we see the child again and decide whether we need to operate.
If the glue ear is not causing any problems, we can just wait for it to settle by itself. If it is causing problems with poor hearing, poor speech or lots of infections, it may be better to put grommets in.
If we do put in grommets, the glue ear may come back when the grommet falls out. This happens to one child out of every three who has grommets put in. We may need to put more grommets in to last until your child grows out of the problem.
You may change your mind about the operation at any time, and signing a consent form does not mean that your child has to have the operation.
If you would like to have a second opinion about the treatment, you can ask your specialist. He or she will not mind arranging this for you. You may wish to ask your own GP to arrange a second opinion with another specialist.
What are the alternatives to grommets?
Some doctors may use nose drops or nasal sprays to see if they help. Steroid nasal sprays may help some children if they are able to use them. Antibiotics and antihistamines do not seem to help this type of ear problem. Alternative treatments, such as cranial osteopathy do not seem to be helpful.
Taking out the adenoids may help the glue ear get better, and your surgeon may want to do this at the same time as putting grommets in.
A hearing aid can sometimes be used to treat the poor hearing and speech problems that are caused by glue ear. This would mean that your child would not need an operation.
Can I do anything to help my child?
Speak clearly, and wait for your child to answer. Make sure he or she can see your face when you speak. Call your child’s name to get them to look at you before you speak.
Let nursery and school teachers know that your child has a hearing problem. It may help for your child to sit at the front of the class.