Children are prone to ear infections; in fact, most kids have at least one ear infection before their third birthday. While most infections clear up on their own, some children experience chronic infections that require additional treatment. One of the most popular treatment options is the use of ear tubes.
Below are the questions asked by most parents when they first hear about ear tubes.
Why Does My Child Keep Getting Ear Infections?
Chronic ear infections can be caused by environmental or genetic factors.
Secondhand smoke can increase your child’s risk of getting multiple ear infections.
Buildup of fluid within the middle ear, which is the most common cause of ear infections, can occur because your child’s Eustachian tube is narrow and flat. This tube connects the upper throat to the middle ear; when it is smaller it can make it more difficult for fluid to drain out of the ear.
What Are the Signs My Child Has an Ear Infection?
The most common symptoms of an ear infection include:
- Pressure in the ear
- Fluid draining from the ears
- Low fever
- Hearing loss
- Trouble sleeping
- Tugging on the ears
How Are Ear Infections Treated?
Most ear infections clear up on their own or with the use of antibiotics. Children who continue to experience ear infections and see no benefit from medication may require the surgical placement of ear tubes.
Who Can Benefit from Ear Tubes?
Children who can benefit from ear tubes must have one or more of the following:
- Four or more ear infections in a six-month period
- Six or more ear infections in one year
- Ear infections that do not respond to antibiotics
- Fluid buildup in the middle ear that lasts more than three months
What Are Ear Tubes?
Tiny tubes are surgically inserted into the eardrum through a procedure called myringotomy to help fluid drain from the middle ear. Short-term tubes are designed to stay in the ear for six months to a year before falling out on their own. Long-term tubes are placed for a longer period and require removal from an ENT physician.
A myringotomy is performed under general anesthesia and takes less than 30 minutes. A small incision is made in the eardrum and the tube is inserted.
The procedure is quick, safe and painless.
What Benefits Can My Child Receive from Ear Tubes?
There are a number of benefits your child can receive from ear tubes, including:
- Reduced risk of future ear infections
- Restored hearing
- Improved speech and balance
- Better sleep
To learn more about the benefits of ear tubes or to schedule an appointment with an ear, nose and throat doctor, contact Willamette Ear, Nose, Throat & Facial Plastic Surgery today.