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Mum shares her son’s shocking experience with grommets.

Grommets must be one of the most common surgeries that kids have. Grommets are tiny plastic tubes that are placed in the ear to prevent fluid from building up – which can then cause glue ear and infections.

If your child has had grommets put in, you’ll know that they usually fall out by themselves. However, one mum has shared her story to warn others about what can happen if it all doesn’t go to plan.

Sarah Vanunu originally shared her son’s story in the Facebook group, Mum’s the Word and has given us permission to share this with you:

Sarah wrote: “This serves as a warning of sorts, or at least just a heads up about what most likely will NOT happen, but still, in the unlikely event, CAN happen nonetheless, and what the doctors won’t ever tell you about when having grommets inserted, and which did in fact happen to my son (I guess we’re just lucky!)

“I figured that my experience with dealing with my child’s ear problems and grommets over the years bears some significance, and if my cautionary tale can help another family to avoid the unnecessary suffering that we went through, then it’s worth something, I guess.

High Praise For Those Grommets

Sarah continued, “to be very honest, we were *really* pleased with the results of our son’s operation to have grommets inserted when he was 5 years old! He’d always been a dribbler, always very snotty and lots of wax in his ears and constant ear infections. Every cold and every swim would lead to a guaranteed ear infection. He also spoke loudly all the time. At first, we were told that this would pass and he’d likely just grow out of it, and that it’s really common in babies and toddlers and that the ear canals would eventually enlarge and the liquids would drain better.

“We’d held out for long enough and at the age of 5 we did the operation and got the adenoids removed while we were at it too.

“INSTANT improvement! It was like heaven”

“Literally the same week of the operation and for that whole year thereafter, our child was talking in normal volume, was hearing perfectly, smelling, tasting, his appetite grew, he was eating more, behaving better, no more snot and dribble, no more ear infections… it was like a whole new child! High praise for those grommets! I highly recommend anyone considering to go ahead and have this operation done if your child is suffering. It’s really an amazing procedure.

“After about a year, we took him for a check up to the ear doctor who said one grommet had fallen out naturally, which is OK as usually grommets will fall out on their own, this is not out of the ordinary – and the other one she just removed as it was on its way out. And that was that.

Then Something Changed

“Fast forward to today and he is now 9 and has been constantly complaining about his ear. Over the years we’ve been to 2 different ENT doctors because of the recurring ear infections after that one year honeymoon, and insane build-up of wax and pain and discomfort, and because he was so worried about getting ear infections he showered with ear plugs every day just to be on the safe side, and he was scared to swim for the same reason… each time we were told that he is just vulnerable to ear infections. Nothing to be done. More antibiotics. And then more of the same….

“We were finally referred recently by our ENT doctor to another senior ear specialist at the hospital, on the suspicion that maybe the boy had a perforated ear drum. Finally, this doctor took a look and found that in fact, the grommet was still inside!

All this time… It had gotten lost and the skin had begun to grow over it! And it needed to be removed!

The Lost Grommet

“At first, I thought this was negligence on the part of the doctors who had falsely assumed and told us that the grommet had fallen out 4 years ago.

“However, the hospital doctor assured us that it would have been hard for even him to find if he were to just look inside the ear without using his special equipment and ultrasound which normal ENT Dr’s don’t use; the ear canal is not completely straight and the grommet was hidden deep in the curve (and covered by skin, which is the body’s healing way to try deal with something foreign).

“It’s hard to put into words what it feels like to discover that a foreign object accidentally went missing inside your child’s head for a few years! I mean, he’s 9!

“Just thinking about all those years of needless suffering and discomfort. The poor guy. What a champ!! All that wax, those ear infections, the pain, the fear of swimming – all because a doctor (2 doctors!) said the grommet fell out, when it fact it hadn’t. It was that easy to be dismissed.

Listen To Your Gut!

Sarah said the lesson to be learnt here is – “don’t take everything your doctor says as gospel.”

“If you’re told that your child’s grommet appears to have fallen out naturally – just ask to get a referral to a specialist ENT at the hospital just to be 100% certain, and you can tell your doctor that you heard about this strange incident about the lost grommet and want to make sure it doesn’t happen to your child. Just to be on the safe side.

“I’d never heard that this was even a possibility as no one had told me this could happen. Don’t say you didn’t know.”

Not alone

Many parents have thanked Sarah for sharing their story.

But one mum commented that they too had a very similar experience, “I could have written this almost word for word only it happen to us twice and both times the grommet got lodged causing our daughters ear drum to perforate to the point she couldn’t even go to school for 6wks and they weren’t sure if she’d lose hearing in one of her ears.

“She is now 10 and although she is a lot better we still have issues. Her adenoids have grown back TWICE, the surgery they did on her nasal passages hasn’t worked. The list goes on. Not to mention how sick she was after her surgeries…”

This post has been shared with full permission.

Have you ever heard of anything like this before?

Share your comments below

  • I had grommets inserted in 2013, one fell into the middle ear. I requested they be removed as had constasnt infections n 16 couses of antibiotics. I am now 59 years old. I was put under general anaesthetic by ENT doctor a t the time, when I requested to have a local only to have gtommets removed. Since then my ear drum bursts each time I get a cold. I have complained n seen different specalists only to be told if you were my patient and the grommet fell in I would leave it there. I now have swelling in jaw n constant pain n pressure. I bend over n something moves n then my ear pops. I believe my grommet is still in my ear. I have been told tmj n your jaw is moving!!. I have had two rear lower teeth removed because of pain n swelling. Can anyone tell me what scan will show up the grommet, as xray n CT do not. Will an ultrasound show it? My ENT specialist letter to my GP after grommets removed supposedly is written in a very vague way that does not actually say he did remove the fallen in grommet.

    Reply

  • I am a 51 year old woman. I had grommets inserted when I was 4 yrs old. I have had fullness and ear pain for many years. Last week the pain was very bad so I went to the doctor. He said that’s strange you have a middle ear infection. I got antibiotics. After days of taking them my throat pain got better but not my ear pain. I went back to the doctor. He said you don’t have an infection anymore. Not happy with the pain I used a saline solution and put a little in my left ear. Then I sprayed it up my nose. I was laying down and felt something strange in my nose so I blew it. To my surprise and shock my grommet came out. Tonight I’ve been back to my doctor. He said the grommet must have been stuck inside my middle ear and it’s moved down through the back of the nasal cavity. He said it’s possible to travel to the brain as well. The grommet is the likely reason for the infection. I thought after 46 years I wouldn’t even have a grommet anymore. My ear is still sore and the hole has already closed over. Is this the reason for my ear pain and not TMJ? I can’t believe it and this is the first place I’ve read similar stories.

    Reply

  • Hi I’m actually in the UK and searched for anything I could on lost grommets. My story actually is quite frankly terrifying.
    I used to have grommets put in every year as a kid to go on holiday as I had terrible trouble with planes and pressure as well as ear infections.
    I must have stopped having them put in when I was around 10 (unfortunately my parents aren’t around to confirm)… I’m now nearly 34.
    For the past maybe 15 years I have felt almost constant pressure and blockage in my right ear always say I feel it need syringing or I need to heavily pop it.
    Fast forward to 2 months ago and I went away to Hong Kong I slept through the flight so was unaware of ear popping. Our hotel rooms were 44th and 111th floors (we stayed in 2) and due to the height and the lifts my ears were popping all the time. Again on the flight I slept the full 12 hours (bliss for any mum). Pretty much from the day I landed home I had excruciating pain and took myself off to the doctors. Please believe me I kid you not for the next bit. She looked in my bad ear gasped and said “Oh my god”. I was like please tell me I’ve not got something living in it from my trip. She replied “No you have a bright green grommet lodged in your ear but not where it should be.
    So I’m stunned… that’s been in my body for 23 odd years no wonder I’ve had so much discomfort. So I think that with all my ear popping it moved it. I was referred to an ENT specialist whom I saw on Friday just gone. He looked in my ear gasped and laughed. I said I wish I would stop getting these reactions.
    He basically told me it cannot be removed. It’s stuck behind the eardrum and surgery would probably do more damage.
    I’ve been in agony for 2 MONTHS and have been told I have to live the rest of my life like this now. Of course I’ve asked to been referred further.
    As a kid I was under one of the top ENT departments in the UK and they missed it. In 23 years any doctor who has looked in my ears has missed it. Please take this from my situation… if your child has had grommets and still complain of the ear feeling blocked or pressure please take them to get checked that the grommet is actually out x

    Reply

  • Grommets in some cases help the fluid drain out. Normally they fall out after they have done their job, normally they don’t stay in for long. I have known children to have to sit in the front row in the classroom and still not be able to hear properly some of the time. After having grommets they regained a very high % of their hearing……and their behaviour improved very soon afterwards. They are no longer frustrated because they can’t hear.

    Reply

  • My youngest had grommets twice. The first time they removed his adenoids as well. We were very lucky because he never had any problems with them falling out on their own. Before he had them he only had 35% hearing in one ear and 55% in the other. He now has 85% and 95% hearing.

    Reply

  • No, I hadn’t heard of this occurring but thanks for the update.

    Reply

  • Poor boy, hopefully all will be well with him soon. Thankfully, this is a rare thing to happen.

    Reply

  • Wishing this young lad good health from now on. Thanks for sharing this story.

    Reply

  • Thankyou. I didn’t even know of such a thing.

    Reply

  • My son is 9 and has had 5 sets of gommets, adenoids done twice and tonsils removed. And now has been on a wait list to see an ENT for nearly 3 year as his old ent left Australia to work with kids in third world countries

    Reply

  • Poor guy thankfully the next doctor found it.

    Reply

  • Wow, scary but knowledge is power thanks for sharing.

    Reply

  • My daughter had 2 sets of grommets at 3 and 5 and needed a 3rd, both fell out within 3 months. At 7 we took her off all milk products, as I read this could help along with blowing up balloons, after nearly a year of being blocked her ears cleared after 2-3 months, although she lost some weight and was already thin. We tried to replace the milk with soy.
    The grommets effected her hearing slightly, and pressure is almost unbearable (in a plane or up the mountains) another side effect that I have since heard other children got after having multiple grommets.

    My other daughter (asthmatic) had similar ear problems after swimming for a term. I believe this was due to pool chemicals as she improved on school holidays and when we went back, the sore ears, ear infections returned. From this time on we only did swimming lessons on school holiday programs and she was good.

    Reply

  • Being a Mum it’s always good to trust your gut instinct.

    Reply

  • So lucky this is a very rare occurrence. Feeling the boys pain though, must have been agony

    Reply

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