Ear Tubes Can Ease Pain of Chronic Ear Infections

Health Minute

Many children experience an ear infection at some point during their childhood. Some ear infections are viral and go away on their own, according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology (AAO). Others are bacterial and need to be treated with antibiotics. 

For some young children, however, the frequency of getting ear infections is a cause for concern. Chronic ear infections are when an ear infection is repeated and can even lead to hearing loss because of persistent middle ear fluid, according to the AAO.

For these chronic cases, it is common to treat the issue by surgically having ear tubes inserted in the ears, according to the AAO, to:

  • Reduce the chance of future ear infections
  • Restore hearing loss caused by middle ear fluid
  • Improve behavior and sleep problems caused by ear pain
  • Help children do better in school by helping them hear better

Ear tube surgery – called a tympanostomy – is the most common childhood surgery performed with anesthesia, according to the AAO, with more than half a million ear tube surgeries performed each year.

According to the AAO, during the procedure a small incision is made in the ear drum. If there is fluid, it is suctioned out. Then, an ear tube is inserted in the hole to keep it open, which allows for air to slow to the middle ear so it stays well-ventilated.

An ear tube surgery usually lasts about 15 minutes and commonly has a quick recovery.

To determine if this procedure is right for your child, talk with their pediatrician or family medicine physician about their medical history and if the surgery might help. Or, make an appointment with a physician at Upper Valley ENT Associates to have your child examined by a board certified ear, nose and throat specialist.