Tympanostomy (Ear Tubes): What You Need to Know

TympanostomyTympanostomy tubes, or ear tubes, are metal or plastic tubes that can help prevent otitis media, or ear infections. An ear, nose and throat doctor, or otolaryngologist may recommend ear tubes if your child experiences ear infections at least four times per day, according to the Mayo Clinic. Ear infections often result from fluid buildup and bacterial growth when your child’s ear ventilation is impaired and pressure builds up inside the ear. Ear tubes are also known as pressure equalizers.

Potential Benefits

Ear tubes relieve pressure inside the ear, promote fluid drainage and reduce your child’s risk of developing further ear infections. The benefits of fewer ear infections may include:

o Better behavior. Ear infections can cause inadequate sleep and hyperactivity.
o Improvements in learning. Your child may have better hearing and fewer speech impediments.
o Better attendance. Your child will miss fewer days of school due to illness.

The Entire Process

Ear tube insertion is a surgical procedure performed by an otolaryngologist, or ear, nose and throat doctor. Your child needs to fast the day before the surgery, which occurs under general anesthesia. The procedure takes 15 minutes, and recovery is quick. In the majority of cases, ear tube removal is not necessary because the tube falls out on its own in less than one year.

An ear, nose and throat specialist can consult with you to determine the best treatment for your child. Ear infections can interfere with your child’s growth and development, and tympanostomy tubes may be an effective solution.

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