Ear infections are a common early childhood ailment. If you have a child who has chronic bouts of ear infections, you know the drill. Your pediatrician will prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection. It usually clears, but sometimes that infection comes roaring back. What you may not know are the repercussions of these frequent infections and how they may affect your little one. One beneficial treatment is ear tubes. Let’s dive in to what parents should know.
Consequences of Chronic Ear Infections
Many ear infections start with a cold or respiratory infection. Multiple ear infections cause some serious issues for a child. For example, when a child gets 3 plus ear infections within a six month period, there is usually fluid retention and a buildup of pus and pressure in the ear. This opens the door to bacteria and germs in the inner ear. Put simply, expect more infections. These are known as otitis media.
In addition to continuing infections, your child will experience decreased hearing, may have speech and balance problems, and changes to their eardrum. Long-term reduced hearing can lead to delays in speech development.
The best treatment for your child is ear tube surgery by an otolaryngologist like Coastal Ear, Nose & Throat in Savannah or Pooler, GA.
Ear Tube Surgery
Ear tube surgery is the most common childhood surgery performed in the United States.
Ear tubes are tiny cylinders made of plastic or metal, and they are surgically inserted into the eardrum. This surgery is usually performed on children 1 to 3 years, and its main goals are to drain fluid from the middle ear, equalize air pressure in the middle ear, allow fresh air into the middle ear, and then treat and prevent the future buildup of fluid in the middle ear.
It is outpatient surgery so your child goes home the same day. It is performed under general anesthesia and takes approximately 8 to 15 minutes. Most of the time the tubes will come out on their own as your child grows.
Benefits of Ear Tube Surgery
Consider the following benefits of ear tube surgery:
- Reduces the risk of future infections and repeated courses of antibiotics
- Improves hearing or fixes hearing issues caused by fluid or negative pressure
- Improves speech development
- Corrects balance issues
- Decreased pain from infections
- Improves behavior, sleep, and communication