Tympanostomy (ear) tubes are small tubes. They’re placed into your child’s eardrum by an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) surgeon. The tubes may be made of plastic, metal, or other material.
These tubes help to drain the fluid out of your child’s middle ear. This reduces his or her risk for ear infections.
During an ear infection, fluid builds up in your child’s middle ear. This can affect your child's hearing. Sometimes even after the infection is gone, fluid may stay in the ear. The tubes help drain this fluid. This keeps it from building up.
Children are most likely to get tubes between 1 to 3 years of age. By the age of 5 years, most children have wider and longer eustachian tubes. The eustachian tubes are canals that link the middle ear with the back of the nose. This lets fluid drain better from the ears.
Your child’s healthcare provider may suggest tubes if your child has:
The benefits of ear tubes include:
The following are some of the risks of tubes:
How long the tubes stay in can be a problem:
You should talk about the risks and benefits of tubes with your child’s healthcare provider.
Getting ear tubes is normally an outpatient procedure. This means that your child will have surgery, and then go home that same day. Before the surgery, you'll meet with members of your child’s healthcare team. These people may include:
Your child will get anesthesia. Your child may not be allowed to eat or drink after midnight the night before the surgery. Most children can have a normal dinner. Ask your child’s healthcare provider when he or she should stop eating and drinking.
The surgery to place ear tubes in your child’s ear is called tympanostomy. It takes about 15 minutes. This procedure may include the following:
Most children can go home 1 to 2 hours after surgery. Your child will need follow-up care from his or her surgeon. The ear tubes normally fall out on their own in about 6 months to a year.
You’ll get instructions on how to care for your child’s tubes. Your child may need to use ear drops. Your child may also need to wear ear plugs in the bath or when swimming.
Call your child's healthcare provider if your child has the following symptoms:
Before you agree to the test or the procedure for your child make sure you know:
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