If your child's pediatrician has recommended that your little one should have ear tubes installed, you may be confused or uncertain and wonder what this will mean for your child or why he or she needs them. Understanding the basics of ear tubes and why they are necessary can help you to be better prepared for this procedure and its benefits.
What Are Ear Tubes?
Ear tubes are small tube-shaped devices that are inserted into the middle ear by putting them through the eardrum. The tubes are designed to relieve accumulated fluid in the middle ear that hasn't been able to drain properly. The tubes provide a pathway for that fluid to drain out. They are placed during a simple surgical procedure, and your child will have little recovery time needed.
Why Might Your Child Need Ear Tubes?
Most kids who need ear tubes have struggled with chronic ear infections. Multiple ear infections over a period of a few months indicate that your child's ear is not draining correctly and is developing bacteria in the ear.
In most cases, ear infections can be cleared up with the use of antibiotics. However, if the infection returns repeatedly, or your child is unable to take antibiotics because of an allergy or other medical condition, ear tubes can help the ear to drain and restore its normal function.
Sometimes kids are advised to have ear tubes put in if their middle ear retains fluid persistently even without the presence of problematic ear infections. Fluid in the middle ear can affect hearing and even speech development because, when your child cannot hear correctly, they cannot learn to speak correctly.
What Happens Once Your Child Has Tubes Put In?
Your pediatrician will advise you about what you should do once the tubes are put in, but most tubes stay in place for several weeks before they are removed. Sometimes the tubes will work their way out of the ear on their own, and in other cases, your child's pediatrician may have to remove them once they have served their purpose. A follow-up appointment with the pediatrician will determine if the fluid has drained and if the tubes have fallen out on their own or if they need to be removed.
Finding out that your child needs tubes put in their ears can be concerning, but understanding these basics can help you to see that it's nothing to be worried about. Talk with your pediatrician services about any other questions that you might have.