Pass the cheese, Grommet

You may be wondering what Nick Park’s lovable plasticine characters have to do with ear, nose or throat conditions – the answer is, very little other than sharing a name with a medical device which can help alleviate ear problems in young children.

Painful ear infections

Children can be prone to suffering from ear infections. These can be very painful, resulting in repeated trips to the doctor and time off school. There is, however, an effective treatment for recurring ear infections, a tiny tube called a grommet that is inserted into the middle ear.

The very short procedure takes place while the child is under general anaesthetic. The grommet’s tubular shape allows air to pass through into the middle ear (behind the ear drum) which helps drain the excess fluids which cause ear infections.

Treatment for glue ear

Grommets can also help treat ‘glue ear’, which is a condition that commonly affects children. It is caused when the middle section of the ear becomes filled with fluid due to the malfunction of the tube that drains the middle ear to the back of the nose (the Eustachian tube). Often the first symptom of glue ear is that children struggle to hear clearly, although it is not usually painful.

If glue ear doesn’t settle of it’s own accord, grommets can help the excess fluids drain away, providing an easy and effective solution to this problem.

Grommets are tiny plastic tubes, a couple of millimetres wide, that come out of their own accord, usually after ten to twelve months. There is no need for a follow up procedure to remove the grommet. As a general rule, children will grow out of conditions such as repeated ear infections and glue ear. Grommets can help alleviate matters whilst this occurs.

Preparing your child for surgery

Going into hospital can be unnerving for people of any age, but is especially so for children. However, the operation is quick and it won’t be long before it’s time to go home – generally patients can expect to go home around two hours after the procedure has been completed. Most children need only one day off school.

Mr Julian Hamann, a father of three, is experienced at putting children at ease before their procedure. He understands that explaining the process in terms they can understand is important in alleviating their anxiety.