WARNING, WARNING, WARNING.
If you are an adult and considering getting ear grommets please think very carefully and ONLY consider under the following circumstances:
My background -
I never had ANY ear issues and had excellent hearing.
I would always suffer quite badly with colds and feelings of stuffiness, but they would always resolve.
My story started 18 months ago. I have 2 young children and they had shared many, many colds with me, one time I suffered severe sinusitis. First GP tried treating for allergies, which it wasn’t. Then prescribed a steroid spray and my nose was tip top again. However my ears seem to stay a bit ‘full/blocked/pressured’, worse on the right side. It was annoying and as the weeks passed it was bothering me. I tried more steroid sprays, Sterimar, Otovent, steaming etc. and had no difference. GP finally referred to ENT. 5 MONTHS later, I had my 10 minute appointment with the consultant. He didn’t know what to say, but suggested grommets to try to ‘aerate’ my Eustachian tube and give it a rest and time to recover. It seemed a reasonable idea, I was pleased something could be done and trusted his judgement. Easy – kids do it all the time…… 2 weeks later I was in theatre!
From the moment I woke up I knew something was VERY, VERY wrong. I felt so plugged up like never before, I was 50% deaf, I heard whooshing in my ears (pulsatile tinnitus). I was told they need time to settle and 6 weeks to heal. I had not been warned of ANY of these symptoms and my original issue was 100x worse!
I was sent home and things got worse. Over the next days I felt EVEN more plugged up, sore, pulsatile tinnitus raged all night, my head felt in a goldfish bowl / tunnel. I was terrified. I rang ENT and they confirmed again this is expected. GP also confirmed things were still raw. I tried to persevere and attempted to go to work.
4 weeks later, thankfully most of the worst symptoms had subsided. However what was still most disturbing day to day were the grommets frequently popping (a neat mechanical pop sound) and the pressure changes with the air circulating in my inner ear. I couldn’t concentrate wherever I was – everywhere was weird, and my mental health was deteriorating trying to deal with it. I was signed off sick until it was somehow resolved (I had never had any periods of long term sick, and it hit me hard).
At my 6 week checkup I explained my experience, enough was enough and I wanted them out! Consultant agreed.
I had another very long, miserable 6 weeks to wait until the removal date. I kept myself busy at home, had school runs to do, had support from friends/family, used relaxation videos and meditation. But I was going crazy, my anxiety levels had skyrocketed, I was having panic attacks and had to speak to a Counsellor on various occasions.
I was a wreck on removal day and petrified things might get even worse. I was also petrified of dealing with the resulting 2mm holes left in my ears and their ability to heal. The removal surgery (general anesthetic) was very quick, and I woke up pleasantly surprised! I felt so happy the evil grommets were gone and things were not much worse!! The surgeon had made the holes bleed to encourage good healing over the next 2 weeks.
The following few days the pulsatile tinnitus was gone, along with the inane ‘popping’, and there seemed to be improvement in the airy, pressure changes. Things were a bit more ‘normal’. Almost immediately I felt more myself so pleased they were gone!
Over the following week there was some horrible resonating on sounds, but a few days in things were definitely improving. I had a small ear camera and could check on the progress of the holes healing. I looked after myself intensely – eating well, no alcohol, resting, no heavy lifting, no getting ears wet, no going out in cold breezes & no sneezing/nose blowing. The holes were slowly closing, each one in a slightly different way. Then on day 14 they had closed completely and I was feeling NORMAL!
Regarding my initial issue with a blocked feeling mainly on the right side, that also was better and my ears felt even. So on that basis it seemed a success. But a truly awful experience to go through.