Ear Infection - Chronic - Ear Tubes

This surgery involves placing a small tube in one or both eardrums to drain fluid from the middle ear.

This surgery involves placing a small tube in one or both eardrums to drain fluid from the middle ear.

Serous otitis media is a condition in which fluid settles in the middle ear, causing persistent (chronic) inflammation and infection. This may happen after a cold, an acute ear infection or a series of ear infections. The fluid often persists even after the infection is gone and can cause hearing loss, speech problems and long-term damage to the ear.

  • Acute ear infections may occur after a cold and are most common in the winter and early spring.
  • Children have more ear infections because they have shorter eustachian tubes and larger adenoids, which can block the eustachian tubes. Eustachian tubes connect the middle ear to the back of throat. When they work properly, they can prevent fluid from building up in the middle ear. Children also get more infections because they tend to get more colds.

If fluid in the middle ear does not go away on its own, or continues to cause symptoms, surgery may be recommended to drain the fluid. A tympanotomy (also known as myringotomy) is a procedure in which a small surgical cut is made in an eardrum. This minor surgical procedure involves placing a small tube into one or both eardrums. The tube helps to drain excess fluid from the middle ear. In some cases, a tympanotomy is done without placement of tubes in the eardrum, but this is uncommon.

  • Fluid can collect in the middle ear for various reasons. These include the common cold, recurrent ear infections, allergies or problems with the eustachian tube. If fluid collects in the middle ear, it can affect hearing and provide an environment for germs to grow.
  • Ear tubes permit fluid in the middle ear to drain out. It is thought that removing the excess fluid can improve hearing and decrease the chance of future ear infections.

If fluid has been present in the middle ear for more than a few months, or there have been frequent ear infections, your child may be referred to a specialist (otolaryngologist or audiologist) for evaluation and treatment. The specialist may test hearing and recommend placement of a tube into the eardrum to drain fluid from the middle ear. This procedure is usually done as a day surgery with light anesthesia. The procedure time is quite short, usually about 20 minutes. (The tube generally falls out on its own within a year.)

If your healthcare provider recommends placement of these tubes, prior to surgery tell him or her about any medications your child is taking (including over-the-counter medications and supplements). Ask about specific instructions to follow before surgery. These may include:

  • Medications not to take before the surgery, such as blood thinners or aspirin
  • Regular medications to take on the day of surgery
  • How many hours to stop eating and drinking before the surgery

What should I ask a healthcare provider before having tubes placed in my child's ear?

  • What is the diagnosis and reason for the surgery?
  • Are there alternatives to surgery, such as using antibiotics for an extended period of time?
  • Is there any other special preparation for the surgery? (If so, get clear instructions on what you need to do.)
  • What kind of sedation or anesthesia will be used? What are the possible side effects?
  • How will my child or I feel after the surgery?
  • Are there certain activities my child or I should refrain from while ear tubes are in place (such as putting the head under water)?
  • What tests are needed? What is the reason for those tests? Will the test results change the treatment plan?
  • What are the follow-up plans and what symptoms should I report before the next appointment?

Make sure you understand the treatment plan, any possible alternatives and what medications are recommended (including possible side effects).

Source UHC.com

Also known as:

Tubes in Ear
Sore Ear
Pain in Ear
Infection in Ear
Hearing Problems
Hearing Loss
Fluid in Ear
Ear Tubes
Ear Plugged
Ear Pain
Ear Infection - Chronic with Tympanostomy
Ear Infection - Chronic - Ear Tubes
Ear Infection
Ear Hurts
Ear Drainage
Chronic Ear Infection
Cannot Hear

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