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Grommets and swimming: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help


The clinical evidence shows that children who swim with grommets in place are no more likely to have problems with their ears than those who refrain from swimming with grommets in place.

Children are therefore generally allowed to swim with grommets in place once they have attended the hospital for their post-operative check about 6-12 weeks after the grommets were inserted.

Prior to this your child should refrain from swimming unless otherwise instructed by your hospital Consultant.

It is unlikely that water enters the middle ear through the grommet during surface swimming, bathing or hair washing but the risk increase if your child participates in underwater swimming or diving. Thus only surface swimming is generally encouraged.

  • If swimming causes pain then simple earplugs of cotton wool rubbed with petroleum jelly may serve as a convenient plug and swimming may be continued if this stops the pain. There is no evidence of show that commercial earplugs or headbands are any more effective.
  • If swimming causes discharging from the ear then swimming should be stopped. If the discharge continues for over 48 hours then medical advice should be sought when eardrops or oral antibiotics may be prescribed. (It is likely that swimming will then be banned.)


Swimming will only be banned with the grommet in place if problems arise.