This (also known as otitis media) is a common condition in children aged two to six years. In some children, it may cause a hearing loss leading to a wide range of problems such as poor speech development, hearing loss, behavioural changes, recurrent ear infections or sensation of imbalance. In about half of affected children, the condition resolves spontaneously in about 3 months. In other specialist attention may be required to test hearing and decide on treatment options.
Treatment options include the insertion of grommets or the use of a hearing aid. If a hearing aid is used it is used until complete resolution of the condition. A grommet is a tiny tube that is placed sitting astride the eardrum. It ventilates the middle ear, keeping the pressure in the middle ear at the same pressure as the atmosphere. This is required for proper hearing function. Grommets are inserted under a general anaesthetic. It is a short procedure with a quick recovery and most (if not all) patients leave hospital on the same day. Hearing improves more or less right away or within a few days at the latest. Some children may need to have grommets inserted more than once.