Grommets are small plastic tubes that are inserted into your ear drum. The size of these plastic tubes is just about a couple of millimeters and they are expected to stay inside the body for a couple of years before being removed.
Why Are They Placed In The Ears?
They are placed in the ears most commonly in the case of repeated infection resulting in a fluid buildup and reduced hearing. Children are the most common recipients of these grommets, however, adults also are advised to get them inserted into their ears under certain situations.
The underlying pathology of these repeated infections or glue ears can vary, however, a Eustachian tube abnormality is often the cause. The idea behind placing these grommets in the ear is that they will be an effective interim measure while the Eustachian tube develops fully.
How Do These Grommets Work?
Grommets work by equalizing the pressure between the middle ear and the outside. It also serves as a pathway for the excess fluid build up to drain outside. This will help in a reduction of any pain that was associated with the ear infection while also providing a method to apply antibiotic ear drops effectively.
There are studies that have shown that local administration of antibiotic ear drops is much more effective than the systemic antibiotics of the same concentration.
How Are These Grommets Placed?
The procedure to place these grommets inside the ear is relatively straight forward and is usually done under general anesthesia. Some doctors may choose to perform this under local anesthesia itself. The entire procedure lasts for about 20 minutes.
What Are Some Of The Changes That Patients Can Experience?
Patients can expect a relief from the pain and discomfort that they would have been experiencing before the procedure, however, there are some other changes that they should be aware of before going in for the procedure.
The grommet is a foreign body that is going to be lodged inside the ear drum. This means that it will evoke an inflammatory response from the body. As a result, hearing can appear to be muffled for some time after the procedure. The exact time of this varies from patient to patient, but a month of muffled hearing is a reasonable expectation for the patient to have after the procedure.
Patients also complain of a "whooshing" noise after the procedure has been performed. This is because there is now an external opening into the middle ear that was not present earlier. Another common complaint of patients is the fact that their hearing seems "hollow". People who are associated with the music profession will have a harder time picking up bass notes as compared to before.
Most patients get used to these changes within weeks to a few months.
How Are Grommets Removed?
Grommets are removed through a straightforward minor surgical procedure if they have not come out on their own (which is the most common occurrence). In a small minority of cases, the opening in the ear drum does not heal on its own and has to be closed up with another small surgical procedure.
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