Ear Tube Treatment for Children

The surgical placement of ear tubes is the most common childhood surgery performed, with the average age range from one to three years old. This procedure can also be used with adults.

Reasons to Get Ear Tubes

Chronic ear infections (acute otitis media) of the middle ear or the persistent presence of fluid in the middle ear (otitis media with effusion) can lead to other conditions such as:

  • Hearing loss
  • Balance problems
  • Behavioral or speech problems

To help alleviate these problems, an otolaryngologist (an ear, nose and throat surgeon) may recommend the insertion of ear tubes.

Less common conditions that can call for ear tubes include:

  • Anatomical malformations of the ear drum or Eustachian tube
  • Down Syndrome
  • Cleft palate
  • Injuries to the middle ear resulting from air pressure reductions sometimes caused by altitude changes and scuba diving

Pros and Cons for Ear Tubes

All children get ear infections, but what happens when they become recurring? Myringotomy tubes, or ear tubes, are often brought up as a possible option to reduce the amount of ear infections children get. Here are some pros and cons about ear tubes for children:

Pros

Cons

  • Ear tubes will drastically decrease the amount of ear infections children get. They can, in some cases, completely eliminate them.
  • It’s hard to see your child go through surgery.
  • After getting ear tubes, future ear infections can be treated with drops instead of antibiotics. This lowers the chance for your child to develop an immunity to antibiotics.
  • Some doctors jump the gun with ear tubes. They should only be used if a child has at least four ear infections within a six month period.
  • Ear Tubes can improve hearing for children.
  • If your insurance doesn’t cover the ear tube procedure, it can be a pricey ear infection solution.
  • Tubes drain the fluid that sits in the ears, resulting in less pressure.
  • A majority of children need to have the tubes replaced at least once.
  • Children do not feel the ear tubes once they are inserted.
  • Tubes can cause pus from the ear and a thickening of the eardrum over time.

Consult Dr. Bickert about the positives and negatives of ear tubes for children.