Children’s hearing and ear tubes are a sensitive matter. If your child has suffered several ear infections in a relatively short span of time, ear tubes may need to be considered. These small tubes are inserted into the ear to provide better fluid drainage from the middle ear. Fluid buildup in the middle ear is the most frequent cause of ear infections, so better drainage should provide a healthier ear environment and reduce the risk of future infections. This is a relatively simple procedure. Here is some basic information covering what you should know if your child needs ear tubes.
When ear tubes are needed
As mentioned above, ear tubes help drain the middle ear. While the ear has built in tubes (Eustachian tubes) to do this, they can become blocked up or closed by inflammation. This happens much more easily in children, because of the different size and angle of their Eustachian tubes.
Although ear infections are not particularly dangerous, repeated infections in a short time span can cause damage to the eardrums and hearing loss. This is a serious consequence, and a doctor will recommend ear tubes as to avoid this outcome. Eventually, a child’s natural Eustachian tubes will grow larger and they will no longer require artificial ear tubes.
A Parent’s Role
Whilst the procedure to insert ear tubes is fairly simple it is also delicate, so your doctor will recommend you to a specialised surgeon for the procedure. The procedure is done under anesthesia, so your child will not be in pain during the insertion, but you do need to mentally prepare them for the process. If they have not had anesthesia administered before, it can be frightening. Try describing it as a medicine to make them sleep and reassure them that it is safe. Generally, they will also be allowed to have a comfort object with them, so you should help them pick that out ahead of time. You can also reassure them that you will be right there with them, since this procedure usually allows for that.
The actual procedure is only about 15 minutes long. The surgeon will make a tiny incision, drain any fluids that have currently built up in the middle ear, and insert the tube. As long as there are no complications, you will be able to take your child home within a few hours. They will likely be groggy for the rest of the day due to the anesthesia, but should be back on their feet and in fine health by the next day.
There will be at least one follow up appointment to ensure that everything has continued to work smoothly, but otherwise, your job as a parent is mostly to make sure your child feels safe and comfortable throughout this procedure to improve their health.
If you have questions or concerns about ear surgery contact your local doctor, who will arrange for you to see an Ear Nose Throat Specialist.