After grommets, you usually feel a little pain in the ear canal and may experience some after-effects of the anaesthetic (fatigue, nausea) for 12-24 hrs. A dose or two of panadol (paracetamol) on the day following the procedure is usually enough and most people/ children are fine the next day. School or work can be returned to the next day.
You (or your child) have no restrictions on their level of activity when grommets are in place however, it is recommended that for the first 72hrs you refrain from very rigorous activity (contact sports, trampolining, etc) until the grommets tighten into place.
There may be some discharge of blood or fluid from the ears for 1-2 days following the procedure. This mostly represents some ooze from the small incision on the eardrum or mucous from inside the eardrum. If it continues longer than 48hrs or is worsening contact your surgeon’s rooms. Immediately after the surgery, there is often some watery fluid or watery blood in the ear canals. This is because a large amount of antibiotic drops has been instilled in the ear during the procedure and some will run out. It is expected.
You (or your child) may go home with some antibiotic ear drops (Ciloxan or Ciproxin HC). You should install 4 drops twice daily for 4 days (sometimes longer if the ear is quite infected) postoperatively in the specified ear. These drops are generally used if there is significant fluid in the middle ears when the grommets are inserted and helps minimise the chance of a chronically discharging ear. Sometimes only one ear will need drops even when two grommets are inserted. Do not use the drops longer than specified.
If discharge (mucous, pus or blood) comes from the ear at any stage (when grommets are in place) after the course of drops has ceased this represents an infection (even though there may be no pain or fever) and should be treated with another course of antibiotic drops (not oral antibiotics). These drops should be used for a further 48hrs after the discharge has settled (which is generally a total course of 5-7 days). It is never normal to have fluid constantly oozing from the ears when grommets are in place. The role of grommets is not to drain fluid but aerate the middle ear inside the eardrum (adopt the role of the immature or dysfunctional eustachian tube).
It is generally recommended that you keep water from getting into the ears when grommets are in place. There are several ways of achieving this. During bathing, cotton wool can be placed into the ear hole and vaseline should be wiped onto the outside of the cotton wool. Alternatively, ‘Blue Tak’ or swimmers silicone ear ‘putty’ plugs can be used (from a swim shop or pool). This is helpful when trying to wash hair. If showering is preferred then little water gets in the ears and no plugging is needed (A shower cap can be worn). For swimming, swimmers ear putty or custom fitted plugs (from the audiologist) with the use of a swimming cap is the best option. The audiologist can supply ‘Proplugs’ with an ear wrap which is cheaper than a custom plug and often achieves good water protection. Please ask your surgeon. Spa baths should not be used as they generally contain a lot of bacteria. If you have been involved in water sports/ activities over the day then it is recommended that you dry out the ear canals with a hair dryer (gently) for a few minutes that evening.
Problems / Follow Up
If you have any queries or difficulties please contact your surgeons’ rooms during working hours on 03 9347 0680. An appointment needs to be made within about 4 weeks post operation to check the grommets and often check hearing.
Follow up for grommets should continue until you no longer require grommets. This may be only occasional in the long term.