Kids who get repeated middle ear infections may need ear tubes. Ear tubes are tiny tubes that are inserted into the eardrums. The tubes are made from metal or plastic, and they are meant to allow for improved airflow. This helps to equalize pressure and lets fluid drain properly, preventing ear infections.
How Do You Know If Your Child Needs Ear Tubes?
Repeated ear infections can be very painful. They can also lead to hearing impairments and speech impediments. Any one of these reasons is grounds for an ear tube surgery recommendation.
Children with Down Syndrome or Cleft Pallet may also be more susceptible to middle ear infections because of their specific physical development.
How Do Ear Tubes Prevent Ear Infections?
Ear tubes help to drain the fluid that has built up in your child’s ear. During the surgery, which is called a myringotomy, the doctor will drain excess fluid, and the inserted ear tubes will prevent future build-up.
The ears are meant to naturally drain fluid through the eustachian tubes as a way to remove bacteria from the body. This is a safeguard against infection. When the eustachian tubes are immature, recurrent infections can happen. Ear tubes are meant to work as a substitute in the meantime
The Surgical Procedure
Ear tube surgery is an outpatient procedure, which means that your child will not have to spend the night at the hospital. She will need to undergo general anesthesia so that the surgeon can complete the insertion. Her vital signs will be monitored throughout the process, which takes about fifteen minutes to complete.
With the help of a microscopic lens, the surgeon uses either a laser or a tiny scalpel to make a tiny incision called a myringotomy in the eardrum. That allows fluid to clear. He then inserts the ear tubes into the incision site. The tubes prevent future build-up by allowing a clear path. The tubes actually allow air to pass through, equalizing the pressure so that the fluid can drain continuously.
Preparing For Ear Tube Surgery
You will have a pre-operative appointment before the surgery, where your doctor will go over everything you need to know. Your job is to ease your child’s fears. Keep him calm and relaxed. Explain as much as he can understand to help remove the fear of the unknown.
It can be really helpful to emphasize to your child that this will stop his ear infections. Kids like to know the reasons behind things, and they will be more open to something that they understand will help them.
Your doctor will let you know the exact rules to follow to prepare. Your child should not eat or drink anything six to twelve hours before the procedure, since having anything in the stomach increases any risks of anesthesia.
Aftercare & Follow Up For Ear Tubes
When the procedure is done, a nurse will care for your child in the recovery room. After surgery, you will be able to visit your child. Your presence will be comforting, so the nurses will call you in as soon as they can after your child begins to wake. Follow their instructions and wait a bit longer if you are advised to.
Kids may need anti-nausea medication after the procedure. Introduce foods and fluids slowly even though they may be very hungry and thirsty.
Complications Of Ear Tubes
All surgical procedures have a risk of complications. Complications with ear tube surgery do happen, so it is important to monitor your child. Risks include bleeding, infection, persistent fluid drainage, blocked tubes, or failure for the incision to close after the ear tubes come out.
When The Ear Tubes Fall Out
Ear tubes are a foreign object, so the body will naturally form a barrier around them and gradually push them out. In other words, your body’s healing process will remove them, and when the surgery goes as planned, they come out on their own when they are no longer needed. Once the eustachian tubes mature, they will drain by themselves and the surgically inserted tubes become unnecessary.
One day, they will fall into the ear canal. Often they just fall out of the ear, sometimes unnoticed. Otherwise, a doctor will pull them out from the ear with a simple and quick procedure. Surgery is not needed, as they are just sitting there. Usually, they fall out without any intervention.