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Ear Tubes

Ear Tubes

TYMPANOSTOMY

Ear tubes, also known as tympanostomy tubes, ventilation tubes, or pressure equalization (PE) tubes, are tiny cylindrical devices that are surgically inserted into the eardrum to treat recurrent ear infections, persistent middle ear fluid, or to prevent ear infections in individuals, especially children.

How they Work

Ear tubes work by allowing air to flow into the middle ear, which helps to drain fluid and prevent infections. Ear tubes also help to improve hearing by equalizing the pressure between the middle ear and the outside world.

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Procedure

The insertion of ear tubes is a relatively quick and straightforward surgical procedure. It is typically performed by an otolaryngologist or ENT specialist. The patient is usually under general anesthesia, and a small incision is made in the eardrum. The tube is then placed into this incision, allowing for the ventilation of the middle ear.  

 

Several types of ear tubes are available, with variations in size, shape, and materials. The choice of tube depends on the specific needs of the patient and the surgeon's preference. Some tubes are designed to stay in place for several months to a few years, while others are designed to eventually fall out on their own.

Ear tubes typically fall out on their own within 6 to 12 months. In some cases, they may need to be removed surgically.

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Benefits

Ear tubes can provide several benefits, including:

 

  • improve hearing in children with fluid in the middle ear

  • helps reduce the number and severity of ear infections

  • helps improve speech development in children with hearing loss

  • helps reduce the need for antibiotics to treat ear infections

Risks & Complications

While ear tube insertion is generally considered safe, there can be some risks and complications, including: 

 

  • Infection

  • Scarring of the eardrum

  • Persistent drainage or ear discharge

  • Hearing loss (usually temporary) 

Ear tubes have been proven effective in managing certain ear-related conditions, especially in children who experience recurrent ear infections or persistent middle ear fluid. 

What to Expect

Here is what parents can expect when their child is getting ear tubes:

Before Surgery

  • Your doctor will perform a physical examination and hearing test to assess your child's condition.

  • You will discuss the risks and benefits of ear tube surgery with your doctor.

Day of Surgery

  • Your doctor will perform a physical examination and hearing test to assess your child's condition.

  • You will discuss the risks and benefits of ear tube surgery with your doctor.

  • You will need to sign a consent form for the surgery.

  • Your doctor will give you instructions on how to prepare your child for surgery.

Post-surgery

  • Your child may experience some pain and bleeding from the ear. This is usually mild and goes away within a few days.

  • Your doctor may prescribe over-the-counter pain medication to manage your child's pain.

  • Your child will need to avoid strenuous activity and swimming for a few weeks after surgery.

  • Your child will also need to wear earplugs when bathing to prevent water from entering the ear.

  • Your child will need to see their doctor for follow-up visits to monitor the ear tubes and their hearing.

Post-surgery Care

Here are some tips for parents of children with ear tubes:

  • Keep your child's ears dry. Avoid getting water in the ears when bathing or swimming.

  • Clean your child's ears regularly with a damp cloth.

  • Avoid putting anything in your child's ears, such as cotton swabs or ear drops.

  • Watch for signs of infection, such as drainage from the ear, fever, or pain.

  • Take your child to their doctor for follow-up visits to monitor the ear tubes and their hearing.

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