Can my child go swimming with grommets?

Swimming and water activities ‘comes with the territory’ when you live in Australia. We’re an island surrounded by water, and we generally love it.

But we’re not just surrounded (or girt, as our National Anthem tells us) by sea, Australia leads the world in pool ownership. Yes, there are more pools per capita in our country than anywhere else in the world. 1.2 million to be precise and increasing by 30,000 every year.1

We also take water safety very seriously, with very strict rules and regulations when it comes to pool fencing and even boating.

So, it makes sense that we are very keen that our children know how to swim and survive around water.

But what about the children who had had grommets fitted? Can they join in the fun and swim like all the other kids?

Water and grommets

Grommets are small tubes designed to allow air to enter the middle ear to try and prevent a condition known as glue ear. This tiny tube, sometimes called a ventilation tube, helps the middle ear drain, keeping it nice and clear so hearing is unimpaired.2,3

Grommets also have a small central hole around 1mm in diameter that may allow water to enter the middle ear, which might result in the development of an ear infection.2 This situation can be made worse under pressure.2

Swim or no-swim?

Swimming with grommets is definitely allowed – as long as you take some precautions.

Swimming in the sea or ocean is fine, as long as your child doesn’t dive too deeply because the pressure may force the water through the tiny hole, increasing the risk of infection.2,4

However, with swimming pools, rivers or potentially dirty water such as dams, it is highly recommended that your child wear good quality earplugs or a swimming cap that covers the ears.2-4

Some doctors even recommend earplugs or cotton wool balls covered in Vaseline while showering or bathing, because the soap can reduce the surface tension of the water allowing it to flow through the tiny 1mm hole.2,5

A good fitting earplug designed for swimming will help protect your child so he or she can enjoy a very special part of the Australian lifestyle – and stay safe. Check out the Otifleks range of earplugs for swimming here including the Otifleks Silicone Earplugs and Otifleks Natural Beeswax Earplugs made especially for children.


  1. https://www.afr.com/companies/infrastructure/pool-lovers-go-with-the-flow-20121207-j1dil
  2. https://www.morrisseyent.com.au/resources/grommets-and-water
  3. https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/grommets
  4. https://www.schn.health.nsw.gov.au/fact-sheets/ears-glue-ear-and-grommets
  5. https://ent-surgery.com.au/ear-grommets-and-water/ 



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