What Are Ear Tubes?
An ear infection can lead to fluid buildup in the middle ear, and too much buildup can affect your hearing. Ear tubes (myringotomy tubes) help the fluid drain and reduce the possibility of future ear infections. They’re essentially small pipes surgically inserted into your eardrum by a physician who specializes in ear, nose, and throat conditions. Insertion is a common surgery among children.
What Are the Benefits of Ear Tubes?
As fluid drains through the tube, hearing improves gradually. Once the fluid is drained, the myringotomy tubes prevent the buildup from redeveloping.
Children who experience multiple ear infections or have persistent middle-ear fluid benefit the most from myringotomy tubes. In fact, the benefits for children are manifold:
- Hearing restoration
- Normal speech development
- The Eustachian tube, another structure in the ear, has time to mature
- The child’s lifestyle improves (sleep, behavior, communication)
- Decreased risk and incidence of ear infections
- Decreased risk of developing antibiotic resistance
How Are the Ear Tubes Inserted?
The procedure, known as a myringotomy, includes:
- Creating a small opening in the eardrum
- Draining the existing fluid
- Relieving pressure from the middle ear
- Placing the ear tube in the opening to ventilate the eardrum
If the infection is severe, we may recommend the removal of the adenoids, which is necessary only if the soft tissue is also infected. This is generally considered beneficial for children who experience recurring ear infections.
What Are the Risks Associated With Myringotomy?
As with any surgical procedure, a myringotomy comes with certain risks and side effects, such as infection or ear drainage. In some cases, the procedure could leave a small perforation in the eardrum that would need to be corrected with surgery. The tubes generally fall out by themselves within the first year after surgery. If they fail to do so, contact us immediately.
What Aftercare Is Required for Ear Tubes?
The aftercare focuses on preventing complications and surgery-related infections. You’ll receive a prescription for antibiotics and instructions on how to protect the myringotomy tubes. We’ll need to see the patient every four to six months until the tubes are out. In the event that your child is experiencing pain, fever, or displaced tubes, contact us right away so that we can immediately make an evaluation to determine the best course of action.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment or to learn more.