One of the most common problems encountered by children is ear problems, specifically ear glue. The presence of ear glue could delay the developmental growth of the child by decreasing the stimulus that they receive through their ears. The presence of ear glue is usually correlated with placement of ear grommet. What are ear grommets in children?
The ear has three parts: the outer, middle and inner ear. Normally, the inner ear sweats fluid and is emptied via the Eustachian tube which runs from the middle ear to the back of the nose. The fluid moves out of the middle ear every time the ear pops through yawning or swallowing. When the eustachian tube gets infected, the fluid could not get out of the middle ear and could thicken like glue (called ear glue).
If there is ear glue, the sound that travels through the ear could not penetrate until the inner ear. This could lead to the child’s poor performance at school since he/she could not hear well the lectures. It could delay the child’s speech and language developments as he/she could not hear the sounds well. It also imposes injuries to the child when playing as the child could hardly hear approaching sounds or any sounds in their environment. Aside from developmental delays, the child could also feel ear pressure which is disturbing and painful for them.
When this problem arises on your child, it is best to have him checked by a physician. The physician will examine the child’s ear before diagnosing. Aside from directly visualizing the child’s ear, the physician could also do hearing test and asks previous medical problems experienced by the child. It is advisable to always give accurate medical history to the doctor as this can help in assessing the child and managing his/her ear problem.
One management that can be done to treat ear glue, aside from antibiotics is by placing ear grommet. An ear grommet is a small plastic tube that is inserted in the middle ear to drain the ear glue. It acts like an artificial eustachian tube that drains and equalizes ear pressure in line with the atmospheric pressure. Ear grommets decrease the ear pain experienced by the child and allow him/her to hear clearly.
Complications associated with ear grommet are extremely low. Sometimes, children with ear grommet experiences runny ear which can be dealt with antibiotic drops. The grommet stays in the ear of the child until the eustachian tube heals. Rare complications of ear grommet are ear perforation and scarring of the ear drum. It is best to talk to the surgeon prior to surgery to ensure safety of the child.
Children with grommet should always use ear plug when taking a bath so to prevent water from entering the ear and cause infection.