Medically Reviewed by Dr. K on 21 April 2021
Table of Contents :
- Ear Tubes: What to Expect
- How Do Ear Tubes Work?
- What is Ear Tube Surgery Like?
- How Can I Comfort My Child?
- When Do the Tubes Come Out?
Ear Tubes: What to Expect
Your surgeon can recommend ear tubes if your child has repeated infections or fluid build-up in their middle ear. Adults may need them as well, although this is less popular.
To insert them in, a specialist would have to do a minor operation. Antibiotic ear drops can be used in the ears before or after treatment to help avoid infections.
Once in operation, the tubes will provide relief from the discomfort and lack of hearing caused by these infections for you or a child in your care.
How Do Ear Tubes Work?
They aid in the improvement of air quality and pressure control in the middle ear, which is the area just below the eardrum. This makes it easier for liquids to drain.
If your child has coordination issues or developmental difficulties as a result of hearing disorders, it would more definitely change in the weeks and months after the tubes are placed.
With plugs, the child will also get ear infections, although they may be less frequent. Infections do not induce hearing problems and either go out on their own or through the application of antibiotic ear drops.
What is Ear Tube Surgery Like?
For younger children, the first move is to get medication that will enable them to sleep during the procedure. The primary reason for this is to ensure that your infant remains motionless during the process.
You’ll carry your child to a hospital or an outpatient surgical facility, where physicians can monitor their pulse rate, oxygen levels, and blood pressure to ensure everything is running smoothly.
Adults and older children will have the operation when awake. It should be performed in the surgeon’s office with them.
The procedure requires approximately 15 minutes and consists of three stages. The surgeon will:
- Cut a tiny hole in the eardrum.
- Drain all excess liquid.
- Insert the tubing through the hole.
Your surgeon will provide you with specific instructions for how to prepare. Children who need medication to fall asleep may be required to fast for a certain amount of hours prior to surgery. Your infant would be unable to consume solid foods and would only be allowed to drink some liquids.
Consult the surgeon to ensure that you are aware of the following:
- How long does your child have to fast for?
- What liquids are safe to consume prior to surgery?
- Whether your child is able to take any medication before the procedure.
Your surgeon may probably like to know about:
- Any medication that your child is taking
- Anaesthesia (drugs that render you unconscious because you don’t experience pain) allergies or issues that your child or someone in your family is having
- Your child has drug reactions.
Your surgeon may ask you similar questions if you’re an adult having ear tubes.
How Can I Comfort My Child?
Children, as other adults, are likely to be concerned with what is going on. You may want to do the following to support a little girl or boy under your treatment prepare for surgery:
- Ask them questions so they can express themselves and you can make sure they aren’t confused on something.
- Describe how the operation can benefit you in detail, such as “Your ear will sound so much better!"
- Speak to your child regarding going to the surgeon ahead of time — a common rule of thumb is to talk two days ahead of time with a two-year-old, three days for a three-year-old, and so on.
- Allow them to choose a doll or blanket to carry to the hospital with them.
- Remind them that you’ll be there the whole time.
It’s better to resist those words while speaking with children.
If you say “put you to sleep," they will associate it with the death of a pet. Instead, you might discuss how a certain surgeon has medications that will make them sleep better.
A child may associate the terms “cut" or “make a hole" with pain. Instead, say “create a small opening."
It takes considerable time for children who have been administered anaesthesia to completely awaken.
Within the first 24 hours, they may feel groggy, fussy, or a little queasy, but after that, they should be back to usual. After the surgery, you may be able to drive them home within a few hours.
If your child was not given any anaesthesia, he or she can go home straight away. This is the same for adults undergoing the procedure.
Your surgeon will discuss the next steps with you. If all goes well, you could be scheduled for a follow-up appointment in 2 or 4 weeks, a hearing examination, or ear drops to reduce the amount of fluid in the ears.
Tell the surgeon whether you have yellow, brown, or bloody fluid in your ear for longer than a week after surgery. If your loved one has ear pressure, hearing issues, or seems to be off control, you can consult with them.
When Do the Tubes Come Out?
Tubes are divided into two categories:
- Short-term tubes are placed in the body for 6 to 18 months before falling out on their own.
- Long-term tubes will either come out of their own or be removed by the surgeon.
Tubes will come out early on rare occasions. If this occurs and the fluid builds up again, the surgeon will need to repeat the procedure. Your surgeon might also have to remove if they remain in for too long.
If your child is a swimmer, earplugs might be essential to cover his or her ears.
The eardrum normally shuts up on its own after the tubes are removed. If it doesn’t, your surgeon can perform a procedure to correct the problem.
Referenced on 9.4.2021
- American Academy of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery: “Ear Tubes.”
- Mayo Clinic: “Ear tubes,” “Ear infection (middle ear).”
- Unity Point Health: “Frequently Asked Questions About Ear Tubes.”
- National Health Service: “Can I eat or drink before an operation?”
- St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital: “Preparing Your Child for Surgery.”