So you think you need . . . Grommets:If you must have the operation

* It should only be in cases of prolonged hearing loss, affecting speech development. Some studies advocate a three-month waiting period, though one suggests that a delay of even six months is likely to have little effect on language development (N Engl J Med, 2001; 344: 1241-2).

* Do not have grommets inserted into ‘dry’ ears. Even if the infection is ‘secretory’, only one ear may be exuding fluid and putting a grommet in the dry ear is unlikely to have any benefits. The likelihood that the ear will need a grommet at a later date is between 0 and 12 per cent (J Laryngol Otol, 1980; 94: 1117-24).

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