Ear infections are the number one reason parents take their children to the doctor. In fact, most kids have at least one ear infection by their third birthday. In most cases, ear infections are not serious and can be treated with antibiotics; however, for children with chronic middle ear infections, surgically placed ear tubes are the preferred long-term solution.
Ear tube surgery is incredible safe, with a very low risk for serious complications. Of course, when it’s your child, the thought of any surgical procedure can make you feel anxious, which is why we’ve answered some of the most commonly asked questions about ear tubes below.
Children are more prone to ear infections in general because their Eustachian tubes – which are responsible for draining fluid from the middle ear and equalizing pressure in the ears – are much shorter and more horizontal than adults’, meaning fluid gets trapped more easily.
Children who go to daycare or are exposed to secondhand smoke are also more likely to have ear infections.
How Do I Know if My Child Needs Ear Tubes?
The telltale sign of an ear infection is when your child tugs on their ears. A doctor can find out for sure during a checkup and will first prescribe antibiotics. Ear tubes are typically only recommended if the child…
- Has four or more ear infections within a six-month period.
- Has six or more ear infections with a year.
- Has an ear infection that doesn’t clear up with antibiotics.
- Has uninfected fluid buildup that remains in the ears for at least three months.
How Do Ear Tubes Work?
Ear tubes work by keeping the Eustachian tubes open, which prevents fluid from backing up and becoming infected. Benefits of ear tubes include:
- Reduced risk of future ear infections. (Eighty percent of children don’t get another ear infection after ear tube surgery.)
- Restored hearing that was lost due to middle ear infections.
- Improvement in speech and balance.
- Improvement in behavior, sleep and learning.
For more information about ear tubes or to schedule an appointment with an expert ENT physician, call Pinnacle ENT Associates today.