If your child has certain ear or hearing problems, they may be a candidate for ear tubes.
Ear tubes are tiny cylinder pieces, surgically implanted by an otolaryngologist, in the eardrum, so that air can flow in and out of the middle ear. Ear tubes mean that fluid and negative pressure do not build up and cause infections.
While not every child with an ear issue is a candidate for ear tubes, certain chronic ear or hearing conditions may cause your family doctor to recommend ear tubes for your child. Sometimes antibiotics are the best way to manage frequent earaches, but sometimes that is not enough.
Discuss ear tubes with your family doctor, or pediatrician if your child has the following:
- A history of ear infections, more than three within six months, especially if they are difficult to treat even with antibiotics.
- Hearing difficulty due to fluid build up in the middle ear.
- Collapsed eardrum, which can happen as a result of negative pressure on the eardrum.
When you discuss ear tubes with your doctor, you will review both the benefits and risks to your child. Ear tube placement surgery is a prevalent childhood surgery. There are some risks, as with any surgery that requires general anesthesia. The benefits of ear tubes include minimized the risk of future ear infections, decreased pain and discomfort by reducing or removing pain from pressure, improved hearing capacity, speech, and sleep patterns.
Your child should have a follow-up check about six weeks after the tube placement. Follow-ups should continue every six months until the tubes naturally remove themselves and are no longer necessary.
You should contact your doctor immediately if your child has any of the following reactions or symptoms:
- Ear drainage is lasting more than a week after surgery.
- Discharge from the ear more than a week after surgery.
- Pain or fever
- Trouble hearing
- Ear tube falls out.