Ear Tubes Overview
Ear infections (otitis media) are the most common infections requiring treatment in young children. They have a tendency to become more frequent and less responsive to antibiotic therapy. Some infections may resolve spontaneously after a short period, while others may require medication to aid in resolution. Almost all children experience one or two infections in the first two years of life, but environment and head and neck anatomy make some children more prone to multiple infections. A complication of otitis media may cause long-term damage that may result in hearing loss or neurologic problems and may contribute to speech or developmental delay.
When a child experiences multiple ear infections, ear tubes (also called tympanostomy tubes, ventilation tubes, or PE [pressure equalization] tubes) may be recommended by an otolaryngologist. These tiny tubes are inserted through the ear drum and perform a number of functions:
Ear tubes are made from various materials and consist of small, cylindrical tubes that are positioned through the ear drum. Some tubes are designed to fall out on their own, and others may require removal by a doctor.
Each year, hundreds of thousands of children undergo procedures to have ear tubes placed in their ears.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/30/2015
John D Donaldson, MD, FRCS(C), FAAP, FACS
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Middle ear and eustachian tube inflammation are common denominators in various clinical conditions, namely, acute otitis media (AOM), chronic otitis media with effusion (COME), and eustachian tube dysfunction (ETD).