Signs That Your Child May Need Ear Tubes

Ear tubes (tiny metal or plastic hollow cylinders) are surgically inserted into the eardrum to allow the middle ear to be ventilated from the accumulation of fluids. Ear tubes are also known as ventilation tubes, tympanostomy tubes, myringotomy tubes, or pressure equalization tubes.

ENT doctors place ear tubes in children who experience persistent fluid buildup behind their eardrum. The treatment is often needed to prevent hearing loss, which can result in speech impediments. Most ear tubes fall out on their own within six to nine months after placement. Some tubes need to be removed. When Are Ear Tubes Needed? Your physician may recommend ear tubes for your child for multiple reasons. A few of the more common reasons include:

1.Fluid building in the middle ear?: Most children’s ears are able to naturally drain excess fluid buildup. There are multiple reasons your child’s ears may not be draining properly. If fluids do not drain properly, the resulting pressure can lead to hearing impairment. The accumulation of fluids can happen with or without the presence of a bacterial or viral infection.

2.Hearing loss: One common cause of hearing loss in children is a middle ear infection, which often leads to fluid buildup. The presence of liquid near the eardrum hinders the eardrum’s ability to vibrate freely, an important step in the hearing process. Addressing hearing loss in children is important because the loss of hearing can lead to speech impediments.

3.Narrow eustachian tubes: One common cause of ear infections in children is underdeveloped eustachian tubes. The narrow tubes connect the middle ear to the back of the throat. Eustachian tubes regulate pressure and help to drain fluid from the middle ear.

4.Balance issues: The inner ear plays an important role in allowing children and adults to maintain balance. A loss of balance is one sign that fluid buildup is interfering with inner ear function.

5.Chronic middle ear infections: Some children experience recurrent and prolonged incidents of ear infections. These children are often good candidates for ear tubes.

6.Ear pain: Fluid buildup in the middle ear is often accompanied by pressure and significant discomfort. Children can experience immediate relief following the placement of their ear tube.

7.How Are They Placed? Ear tubes are placed through a procedure known as a myringotomy. During the straightforward surgery, which is generally performed under general anesthesia, a small incision is made in the eardrum using a laser or small scalpel. At this point, excess fluids can be suctioned out.

The ear tube is then carefully inserted through the hole to help stabilize pressure and to drain fluid that has become trapped behind the eardrum. The total surgery generally takes around 15 minutes to complete. After surgery, the child is usually taken to a recovery room so medical staff can watch for any complications from the anesthesia.

Children are often drowsy following surgery. Any hearing loss that resulted from fluid buildup will be immediately resolved by the myringotomy.