If there are any signs your child may need ear tubes, they certainly won’t be alone. Ear tube surgery, also known as tympanostomy, is the most common childhood surgery performed in the United States each year. It is typically performed by an otolaryngologist (ENT) like Coastal Ear, Nose & Throat in Savannah. Let’s look at the reasons ear tubes may be needed.
Why Does Anyone Need Ear Tubes?
Both adults and children can need ear tubes. This surgery ventilates the middle ear by opening up the tube that connects the middle ear to the back of the throat. This tube, called the Eustachian tube, opens and closes to keep the middle ear ventilated and keep equal pressure.
If the Eustachian tube isn’t functioning as it should, an ENT specialist can make an opening and place a tiny artificial tube from the eardrum side. Ear tubes release any built up pressure and allow air to flow normally.
Main Signs Your Child May Need Ear Tubes
There are a number of situations where an ear, nose, and throat professional might recommend ear tubes be inserted.
They include the following:
- Chronic ear infections are a primary sign your child may need ear tubes. If your child seems to have many ear infections, namely at least three within a six month period, or four during one year, this is a major sign, and inserting ear tubes should clear this up. Fluid is usually present during these infections and in between.
- If your child is suffering from some hearing loss, ear tubes can help. The hearing loss is due to the buildup of fluid in the middle ear.
- A collapsed eardrum due to infections causes diminished hearing.
- Children with permanent hearing loss or speech concerns.
- Children who have an increased risk or developmental difficulties like a cleft lip or palate, autism, Down syndrome, or visual impairment.
Inserting Ear Tubes
There is no pain for your child and the insertion takes only minutes. Young children will need to be sedated so they won’t move. The tubes will eventually fall out naturally after about 18 months.
If over time hearing issues or infections become persistent again, another set might be needed. However, with better airflow, fluid does not buildup and bacteria is less able to breed.