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Hearing management

Question
Posted by: Pepita O | 2018/10/17

Q.

Discharge in six year old ears after grommet holes not closing

My son (6 years) had three sets of grommets. The last set fell out in 2015. The holes are not closing and are still there permanently. Not sure if this is a good thing or not, because I think if it grew closed he will need another set. He permanently has discharge from his ear. Sometimes with a little blood mixed in. The GP wanted to send him to the ENT again, but the medical aid does not want to cover it at this stage and put him on a specific exclusion and waiting period for 1 year. Is there anything I can do for him or give him to stop the discharge or whatever is causing the discharge. He doesn't have any pain, it is just the constant discharge from his ear (it sometimes even flows down his cheek if I don't see it soon enough). He had a set of antibiotics and not even a week after it was finished, the ear started "leaking" again. I guess that if the holes weren't there he would have permanently had an ear infection.

Expert's Reply

A.

Hearing Expert
- 2018/10/17

Hi there

Oh man! Shame, thats a tough one to respond to, especially if the medical aid has now stated it is an exclusion. I do think you need to tackle the medical aid on this one, as I have never heard of it being deemed an exclusion, and you should seek ENT advice and ask them to assist you in advocating to the medical aid as to why it is not acceptable to leave your son in this condition for a year!! That is totally unacceptable.

It is a catch-22, because if there were no infections there would be no discharge and the holes would heal on their own.  But having the grommets in would keep the middle ear aerated and allow for the drainage which is what the holes are doing. But it is important to try get to the bottom of what is causing the constant discharge and how to treat it.  Unfortunately as you say, the antibiotics will help for the time while on them, and then not resolve the underlying issue.  Have you had his tonsils and adenoids checked?

I really think the best place to start is by seeing the ENT again and find out whether there are ear drops that can assist with keeping the ear dry.  Maybe have a deeper closer look at his diet, and what could be assisting in the mucous build-up - sometimes dust / gluten / dairy allergies could keep the discharge and mucous build-up constant. It would also be a good idea to have a CT scan of the facial / sinus / bones to assess whether there is anything structural causing the mucous build up.

Good luck! Keep me posted!!

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