What to expect if your child needs ear tube surgery

(BPT) - Ear tube surgery is one of the most common pediatric procedures in the United States, with more than half a million surgeries performed each year. In fact, by age 3, approximately 1 in 15 children will have had ear tubes. Dr. Robert Bridge, Chief of Otolaryngology at HonorHealth in Phoenix, Arizona, says, “In my practice, we see hundreds of children each year who will need ear tube surgery, and despite how common the surgery is, as parents, we tend to worry.” So if you are one of the many parents whose child needs ear tube surgery, read on to learn more about what Dr. Bridge says you can expect leading up to and following the procedure.

What is ear tube surgery?

Ear tube surgery is a common procedure usually performed by an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) doctor in which ear tubes (tiny, hollow cylinders usually made of plastic or metal) are placed into the eardrum, allowing ventilation to the middle ear. This airway helps alleviate the accumulation of fluid behind the eardrum.

Who is a candidate for ear tube surgery?

Did you know one of the most common complications of the cold or flu is ear infections? Children who experience frequent ear infections in both ears are common candidates for ear tube surgery because this fluid build-up in the middle ear can lead to hearing loss or speech problems. Additionally, the average age of ear tube patients is between 1 and 3 years old.

What can I expect after my child has ear tube surgery?

Immediately following surgery, your child may be groggy, grumpy or tired. Each child recovers differently, but after surgery, it’s a good idea to take a day off from your normal routine to allow your child time to relax and recover.

Children are typically prescribed antibiotic eardrops that must be given multiple times a day, over several days. But these eardrops can come with challenges. Dr. Bridge states that many parents call or return at a post-op visit expressing difficulties administering the eardrops along with the uncertainty that they are administering the medication accurately and completely. However, ENT doctors now have an alternative treatment option available, where the prescription antibiotic is actually placed in the middle ear at the time of ear tube surgery. If your ENT is recommending ear tube surgery, see if this antibiotic treatment may be an option for your child.

How will ear tube surgery affect my child?

Once the middle ear is rid of excess fluid, your child may become more sensitive to noise. “But it’s important to remember children are resilient,” said Dr. Bridge. “While you may notice a change in your child’s hearing, I typically find that by days two and three, parents report their child is back to enjoying their normal activities and are satisfied with the surgery.” If your child’s ENT recommends ear tube surgery this cold and flu season, here is a quick list of questions to ask your doctor before surgery:

* How many hours before the procedure should my child stop eating or drinking?

* How soon will I be able to join my child after surgery?

* How soon can my child take a bath or go swimming?

* Are there any particular activities my child should avoid after surgery? For how long?

* How soon after surgery will we need to schedule a follow-up appointment?

* Do you offer an antibiotic treatment option that you give during ear tube surgery so I don’t have to give ear drops at home?

For more information about a single-dose antibiotic given to your child during surgery, ask your child’s doctor or visit www.thestruggleisreal.com.


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