Why Would My Toddler Need Ear Tubes?

Why Would My Toddler Need Ear Tubes?

Cold and flu season increases the frequency or severity of ear infections for children. Your child's doctor may recommend ear tubes if your child has frequent ear infections and tends to retain fluid in the middle ear between infections. 

Your child may also need ear tubes if they have chronic fluid buildup in the middle ear, or have hearing or speech problems related to fluid and infections in the ears.

Our top-tier team at Southern ENT Associates provides exceptional adult and pediatric ear, nose, and throat care. Middle ear issues can affect a child’s hearing and speech during vital developmental years. Ear tubes are a quick and effective way to address this problem. 

Keep reading to learn when and why we recommend ear tubes. 

Ear tubes and your child

Ear tubes are small cylinders that we place into your child's eardrum. These tubes allow air to flow into and out of the middle ear, preventing negative pressure and fluid buildup. 

Ear tube insertion surgery is done under general anesthesia and takes about 8-15 minutes on average. Most children go home the day of surgery after recovering in a postoperative unit.

The average age for ear tube insertion is 1 to 3 years, but babies as young as 6 months can receive ear tubes. Ear tubes are typically removed from the eardrum 6-18 months after insertion.

When do we recommend ear tubes?

Problems with a child's eustachian tube — the tube that connects the open space behind the nose to the middle ear space — may play a role in middle ear infections and fluid buildup

The eustachian tube allows air to ventilate the middle ear and normal ear fluid to drain into the nasopharynx.

Children have narrower, shorter, and more horizontally positioned eustachian tubes than adults. This makes children more susceptible to eustachian tube problems, resulting in inadequate eustachian tube ventilation and drainage. 

Children who have poor ventilation and drainage are more likely to develop negative pressure and fluid buildup, which leads to frequent ear infections.

We often recommend ear tubes for children who have:

Ear tube surgery is not recommended for every child who has an ear infection or fluid buildup. In many cases, antibiotics or other treatments are better suited for children who get ear infections on a regular basis.

But if your child has multiple ear infections, consult with one of our ENT doctors about whether your child can benefit from ear tubes. At Southern ENT Associates, we only recommend tubes if we believe your child will benefit.

Benefits of ear tubes

Frequent ear infections can cause hearing loss, speech and balance issues, and changes to your child's eardrum. But the advantages and disadvantages of ear tube insertion differ for each child.

Ear tubes reduce the likelihood of future ear infections and the need for oral antibiotics. Even if your child has tubes in place and gets an ear infection, we may be able to treat the infection by putting antibiotic drops in the affected ear.

Ear tubes can also improve or correct hearing problems due to fluid or negative pressure, as well as enhance speech development. Parents often see an improvement in sleep or behavior issues related to chronic ear infections. 

Because ear tubes also remove the pressure that occurs during a middle ear infection or fluid buildup, they also relieve pain and discomfort.

If you believe your child may need ear tubes, talk to one of our ENT providers. Southern ENT Associates gives parents and patients access to top-quality ENT services and support. 

To get started, call our closest office where a helpful and knowledgeable team member is waiting to assist you in scheduling a visit. We have locations throughout southern Louisiana, in Thibodaux, Houma, Raceland, Morgan City, New Iberia, and Youngsville.

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