Ear Infections (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
Surgery for middle ear infections (acute otitis media) often means placing a drainage tube into the eardrum of one or both ears. It's one of the most common childhood operations. While the child is under general anesthesia, the surgeon cuts a small hole in the eardrum and inserts a small plastic tube in the opening (myringotomy or tympanostomy with tube placement).
The tubes will ventilate the middle ear after the fluid is gone. And they help relieve hearing problems.
Doctors consider tube placement for children who have had repeat infections or fluid behind the eardrum in both ears for 3 to 4 months and have trouble hearing. Sometimes they consider tubes for a child who has fluid in only one ear but also has trouble hearing.
Inserting ear tubes (myringotomy or tympanostomy with tube placement) often restores hearing and helps prevent buildup of pressure and fluid in the middle ear.
Adenoid removal (adenoidectomy) or adenoid and tonsil removal (adenotonsillectomy) may help some children who have repeat ear infections or fluid behind the eardrum. Children younger than 4 don't usually have their adenoids taken out unless they have severe nasal blockage. Taking out the tonsils alone is not usually done unless a child has another reason to have them removed.
What to think about
Most tubes stay in place for about 6 to 12 months, after which they usually fall out on their own. After the tubes are out, the hole in the eardrum usually closes in 3 to 4 weeks. Some children need tubes put back in their ears because fluid behind the eardrum returns.
In rare cases, tubes may scar the eardrum and lead to permanent hearing loss.
Doctors suggest tubes if fluid behind the eardrum or ear infections keep coming back. Learn the pros and cons of this surgery. Before deciding, ask how the surgery can help or hurt your child and how much it will cost.
Surgeons sometimes operate to close a ruptured eardrum that hasn't healed in 3 to 6 months, though this is rare. The eardrum usually heals on its own within a few weeks.
If your child has a ruptured eardrum or has ear tubes in place, your doctor will recommend ear protection, including caution with water. The ear could get infected if any germs in the water get into the ear. If your doctor says it's okay, your child may use earplugs. Or your doctor may have other advice for you. He or she can tell you when the hole in the eardrum has healed and when it's okay to go back to regular water activities.
eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise
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