One of the worst things you can experience as a parent is seeing your child in any pain. When your little one starts pulling on their ears or spikes a fever and doesn’t seem like themselves, it may be a key indicator that they have a painful ear infection. In some cases, parents find themselves going back and forth from their pediatrician or ENT with multiple ear infections within a short period of time. In a case like that where your child experiences a lot of ear infections, your doctor might make the recommendation of them having ear tubes put in.
First, what exactly are ear tubes?
The Mayo Clinic describes ear tubes as, “tiny, hollow cylinders that are surgically inserted into the eardrum. This opening enables drainage of the middle ear, allows air to flow into the middle ear and prevents the buildup of fluids behind the eardrum. An ear tube is usually made of metal or plastic.” You may also hear your pediatrician or ENT refer to ear tubes as tympanostomy tubes, ventilation tubes, myringotomy tubes or pressure equalization tubes.
5 Things Parents Need to Know About Ear Tubes
If ear tubes are something that you are currently considering for your child, here are some things that are important to know both before and after the ear tube surgery.
- The key indications for ear tubes are…
If your child is often at your local pediatrician's office with multiple ear infections (3 infections in 6 months or 4 infections in a year) or fluid behind the eardrum for 3 months or longer with an associated hearing loss, then your ENT doctor may identify your child as a good candidate for ear tubes.
- The goal is to reduce the frequency of oral antibiotics that can mess with your child’s GI tract and frequent visits to the pediatrician’s office.
Taking oral antibiotics frequently can be harsh on your child’s GI tract and impact their microbiome. Therefore, one of the main goals of having ear tubes put in is really to improve their overall quality of life (and reduce diaper rash!).
- It’s a very quick procedure.
The Tympanostomy, or ear tube surgery is a very quick procedure performed in the hospital by an ENT doctor. The surgery, which takes place under general anesthesia only takes about fifteen minutes total. According to the Cleveland Clinic, during that time, your child’s doctor will make a small incision in the eardrum, drain or suction the fluid out, then insert the ear tubes into the incision, allowing the fluid to drain out.
- After ear tubes, going into swimming pools or bath tubs isn’t an issue.
Many parents worry about their child going swimming or bathing in a bathtub affair having ear tube surgery, but this isn’t something that concerns Dr. Goudy. He says, “most kids will do fine in treated water (not a lake, pond, or ocean) but if your child continues to get ear infections every time they get into a pool, you obviously want to avoid that.”
- The ear tubes will fall out about 12-18 months after surgery
After the surgery is complete, the eardrum usually closes around the tubes to keep them in place. In most cases, the ear tubes will fall out on their own up to 18 months after surgery. If not, your child’s doctor can schedule a removal procedure.
If you prefer to learn about ear tubes on video, check our Dr. Goudy’s latest:
@drnozebest Ear tubes is a surgery that is done quite frequently for children and these are the top five things that you need to know! #ear #earinfection #eartubes #pain #fever #daycare #surgery #earsurgery #recovery #hearing #tube #eartubes #fyp #doctorsoftiktok @The PediPals ♬ original sound - Dr. Noze Best
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Lastly, if you have a little one who is currently preparing for an upcoming ear tube surgery and it is their first time having a procedure like this done, we recommend taking them on a trip to the hospital ahead of time to feel comfortable with their surroundings. And of course, make sure they have a favorite stuffed animal or toy to keep them company in the waiting room!
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Prevent Ear Infections Before They Start
The Nozebot is a battery-powered suction device designed to clear nasal congestion in babies and children.