Advanced search

Mumsnetters aren't necessarily qualified to help if your child is unwell. If you have any serious medical concerns, we would urge you to consult your GP.

Constant ear infections and grommets

(18 Posts)
HBSBeeches Thu 21-Jan-16 21:19:46

I'm hoping for some advice.

My child is 15 months old has had a constant ear infection since Sept which can only be controlled but not cured at the moment by antibiotics. Her ears have improved but it is still there. Both ears were very red when we started and with fluid bulging in both drums. The ENT was supportive of long term, low level antibiotics which stopped last week. He told us to go back after a month of taking them to be reviewed.

Unfortunately, my little one had another nursery cold when she stopped taking them so faced with another 40 temp, I returned to the GP last week and laid some cards on the table. I said that I wanted to avoid surgery if at all possible and I wanted a hearing test.

I also said that grommets are a grey area meaning that it is individual medical opinion as to whether to go ahead and have them, especially given her age. He was his usual brilliant self and said he entirely agreed so we're visiting him each week for a few weeks to keep those ears under review.

I feel such an idiot for not taking advice about stopping the low level antibiotics when my DD had a cold!

I'd be very grateful to hear from anyone who has had this problem at this sort of age.

It feels like there is a choice between having the fluid drained and grommets or low level antibiotics at the moment. The temperatures just climb out of control if she's not on the antibiotics.

Thanks again.

ReallyTired Thu 21-Jan-16 21:29:13

Glue ear is really in young child, especially if they attend nursery. Often glue ear clears up on its own as the child gets bigger. Prolonged glue ear can be determinal to speech development.

Grommets are not usually done at 15 months old. There are risks with grommets, but if your child is having a lot of ear perforations then the risks maybe justified. If you don't want grommets then digital hearing aids are an alternative.

My son had 14 ear perforations and had grommets and adenoids removed at 3 and half years old. Sometimes enlarged adenoids can make it harder for the eustation tubes to drain. Adenoids can also act as a reservior for germs.

HBSBeeches Thu 21-Jan-16 21:46:45

Thanks for your speedy reply.

Doctors are saying she can't stay on antibiotics permanently and grommets are the alternative.

Sorry to be slow but what are your understanding of the risks? I've done some homework but wants to be sure.

Thanks again

HBSBeeches Thu 21-Jan-16 21:49:08

I should have said that she doesn't have any burst ear drums - just really high out of control temps.

Too young to be sure but her hearing seems ok.


Sunflower6 Thu 21-Jan-16 21:52:45

Has your child been prescribed antibiotics drops into the affected ears rather than oral antibiotics. When my daughter has an ear infection that won't clear with oral antibiotics that is what she is prescribed and it clears the infection

Girlfriend36 Thu 21-Jan-16 22:02:13

Hi my dd had similar issues with chronic ear infections and glue ear, she has had 2 lots of grommets. The first set when she was 2yo and the second when she was 4yo, she also had her tonsils and adenoids out that time.

Personally I would go for the grommets every time, the surgery is very quick (about 20mins) and the recovery very fast as well.

Unfortunately my dd was still prone to infections, we had to be very careful about things like swimming or any activity that involved water tbh! She is 9yo now and <crosses fingers> does seem to have finally out grown them.

VocationalGoat Thu 21-Jan-16 22:05:57

My DD (now 5) was utterly plagued with glue ear, OP, on account of ear infections in nursery. Of course ear infections, amongst other things, are routine during the toddler years. But glue ear can and usually does cause hearing trouble (short-term but long enough to inhibit speech development).
My daughter was literally deaf from the age of 2-4 (no hearing at all, a total flat line in one ear and poor hearing in the other ear). It was a terrifically tough time. By age 4 1/2 though, it all resolved itself.
Have GP refer your LO to paediatric audiology so she can be monitored (not only will her hearing be tested, but the interior of her ears will get a proper viewing). We had about 4 hearing tests over the two years and my DD's glue ear cleared up from Spring until about October. I could tell immediately when it was back in the winter though. Her hearing would be checked in summer and again in January and inevitably she would fail the hearing test. But because the glue ear resolved itself during the warmer months, the audiologist and GP felt confident that grommets were not the answer.
The short-term deafness was a big problem and did cause significant speech delay.

She will be 6 in April and her hearing is perfect now. The glue ear permanently resolved itself and she's been dischared from audiology. Her speech is fine as well.
It's really worth the referral, just to see which way this cat is going to jump, so to speak. Good luck.

VocationalGoat Thu 21-Jan-16 22:07:51

Just to add, my DH is a GP and he would go for grommets every time. DD did not have them, as I mentioned. My one regret about not having them is that her speech delay really was difficult for her more than anyone else. It all resolved itself, but it was a long haul.

stoopstofolly Thu 21-Jan-16 22:21:05

Both my children had constant ear infections and glue ear from an early age. It affects speech, language and social development, as well as the pain from infections and perforated ear drums.
We had grommets at 3 with the oldest and I really regret not doing it sooner. The youngest got them early- 18 months I think and it's been amazing. They are both on their second sets now and I'd recommend grommets every time.
We saw a great consultant who was a specialist in very young children (I think he'd done the youngest ever grommet insertion) and he was excellent. PM me if you can get to
London and need a name. We had to go privately as our GP / hospital have a wait and see approach until 4+. If we'd have waited that long they would have struggled for years.
Good luck.

ReallyTired Fri 22-Jan-16 00:04:37

"Sorry to be slow but what are your understanding of the risks? I've done some homework but wants to be"

There is a chance of roughly 1 in 100 of grommets going wrong with having them for the first time. Problems can include long term scarring of the ear drum, ear infection, the ear drum failing to heal after the grommets fall out. An extreme scenario of grommets going wrong is permanent loss of hearing.

My son's grommets did go wrong, but he was really unlucky. What happened to him was very rare. I think that ent surgeons tend to remember the children whose operations go wrong more than the 99% who have no problems. At one point my son was seeing the ent consultant every 4 weeks.

However there are risks from doing nothing. A child with constant severe ear infections is already taking a risk with their hearing. It is unusual for an ent surgeon to offer grommets in a child so young. In your position I would choose to have the grommets op and ask if it's possible to gave adenoids removed at the same time. They might say she is too young for her adenoids to be removed. I don't know

Repeated grommets carry higher risks of going wrong.

standingonlego Fri 22-Jan-16 00:11:57

Obvious question but have they swabbed ears and tested exactly what bug is causing the infections? My DS had a persistent ear infection, upon lab analysis turned out to be MRSA not a "common bug" and it took very specific dual antibody approach to tackle it.

He ended up having grommets at 20 months....bloody marvellous smile different child, speech and hearing improved in days. Never needed a 2nd set as just needed to grow so his ear tubes got bigger and less likely to block.

standingonlego Fri 22-Jan-16 00:16:09

Second the poster saying worse I the autumn / winter...that was our experience too. Ears are still his "weak spot" when he gets a cold, but never regretted the grommets. Consultant was great, we were private too (work health care) but as procedure is so quick costs were not too scary.

ReallyTired Fri 22-Jan-16 00:21:12

If it's a middle ear infection then it won't be possible to take a swab.

I hate to bring bad news, but there might be a link between long term anti biotic use and tooth decay.

Just warning the op to be extra vigilant about dental health.

ReallyTired Fri 22-Jan-16 00:22:52

Witchend Fri 22-Jan-16 11:47:46

Ds had constant ear infections from 3 months till 20 months when he had grommets in. He's since had 3 lots of grommets and, at 8yo, we're finally hopeful that he may not need any more.

The grommets stopped the ear infections and, as others have said, it was like having a different child.

AlmaMartyr Fri 22-Jan-16 12:05:48

DS had constant ear infections from about 8 months until 3 and a half. We opted for grommets as soon as possible. First set didn't work because they were pushed out due to an ear infection. Second lot took brilliantly. He couldn't hear at all before the second lot but has been able to hear since. He did have speech delay and significant other delays caused by the prolonged lack of hearing and we're very lucky that the consultant was so happy to do grommets.

My glue ear was discovered when I was 7. I'd been significantly deaf for many years but no-one had listened to my mother's concerns. By that age, it was too late to significantly save my hearing because of all the scarring on the drums. I did have grommets then which helped a bit and later had a myringoplasty (eardrum graft) but will always have reduced hearing.

Personally, I'd opt for grommets. The risks are very small and the operation is very straightforward and quick. Glue ear can clear up on its own but it doesn't always.


ReallyTired Fri 22-Jan-16 14:04:52

"Personally, I'd opt for grommets. The risks are very small and the operation is very straightforward and quick. Glue ear can clear up on its own but it doesn't always. "

The risks are small, it's about 1 in a hundred of grommets going badly wrong. No option is risk free. I think that if a ent surgeon recommends them, the. The risks must outweigh the potential benefits. I don't regret my son having grommets even if they did cause problems.

HBSBeeches Sun 24-Jan-16 20:16:44


Just a quick thank you for taking the time to respond.

We went back to the GP this week and her ears are better but not cured. One ear is nearly normal but the other still has fluid.

We are going back to the GP to see how the ears are going in 2 weeks. I think he is willing to let my girl have the antibiotics and let her ears recover then see what they do once she finishes the antibiotics.

We are also under an ENT as well who has said that if the problems continues in terms of the high temperatures and obvious infection then we can have grommets and adenoids removed as well. She'll be 16/17 months then.

We are completely private patients so in grey areas like these they advise us but give us a lot of discretion which intimidates me.

You have all made me feel a lot of better if my girl does need grommets. She is under David Albert at the Portland although I'm not sure if she'll have the op there if required. Any comments on Albert and/or the Portland would be very welcome.

Thanks again

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: