Does Your Child Have Chronic Ear Infections?
While most people have had an ear infection every now and then, many children suffer from frequent ear infections. If a child has an infection more than 4 times yearly, tympanostomy surgery may be a good treatment option. During a tympanostomy placement, an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist insert ear tubes to promote better drainage.
How can ear tubes help?
Due to growing and development processes, children are at a higher risk of ear infections. An ear infection is often a complication of another illness, like the common cold. Because of the angle of children’s ear canals, proper drainage is often more difficult. When fluid builds up in the ears, the result can be swelling, irritation, and pain. The purpose of ear tubes is to open up the ear canal and provide better drainage.
What to expect during surgery
During the tympanostomy placement, an ENT makes a small incision in the eardrum, suctions out fluid, and places the ear tubes into the hole in the eardrum. This procedure typically only takes about 15 minutes and happens in the doctor’s office. Patients typically return home on the same day.
Most children feel immediately better after an ear tube placement. This is especially true if the reason for the tympanostomy was to treat hearing loss due to fluid buildup. A child may feel a bit groggy from the anesthesia for the rest of the day but will be back to regular activity within 24 hours.
The recovery process
Children will need to return for follow-up appointments 2-4 weeks after surgery, at the direction of the ENT. This appointment is scheduled to ensure that the ear tubes are staying in place and working correctly. Additional check-ups are then scheduled every 4-6 months. In some cases, children may get a prescription for eardrops to help prevent fluid buildup between appointments.
Is removal necessary?
Most of the time, ear tubes stay in place for 6-9 months and then fall out naturally. If the tubes don’t fall out within the recommended timeframe, the ENT may surgically remove the tubes in another simple procedure. Usually, if tubes have not fallen out after 2-3 years, the doctor will recommend removal. In contrast, sometimes ear tubes will fall out sooner than expected and the ENT will have to replace the tubes.
Find treatment for ear infections
For most children, ear tubes significantly decrease the frequency of ear infections. While a child may still have some infections, the treatment makes symptoms milder and less frequent. Once ear tubes are removed or fall out, the hole in the eardrum closes naturally. To learn more about tympanostomy placement, schedule an appointment with an ENT.