Four Advantages of Ear Tubes for Children

Earaches and ear infections are a common occurrence in young children because their Eustachian tubes, which run from the middle ear to the back of the nose, are not fully developed. In adults, the Eustachian tubes are slanted and fully opened, which encourages the drainage of fluids.

However, in young children, the tubes tend to be oriented horizontally and may even be partially closed, which can lead to a build-up of fluids in the middle ear. The pressure from these undrained fluids is what causes the pain of an earache and may even cause an infection in the middle ear. Having a cold or the flu may also lead to the accumulation of bacteria-rich mucus, increasing discomfort and raising the risk for a serious infection.

What is an Earache?

Most earaches are self-limiting and will dissipate within minutes to hours. You can help alleviate your child’s discomfort with a warm compress held to the ear and children’s aspirin. Longer earaches or a pediatric ear infection accompanied by temporary hearing loss or difficulties requires a trip to the pediatrician.

Chronic Ear Infections Need Stronger Remedies

If your child suffers from multiple, chronic ear infections he or she may be at risk for permanent hearing loss and gait problems, as the middle ear controls balance. According to the American Academy or Pediatrics, children who have three ear infections in six months or four infections in a year are good candidates for a myringotomy tube, otherwise known as an ear tube. This tiny tube is inserted into the eardrum and placed so that it encourages fluid to drain out, alleviating pressure and restoring hearing. The simple and quick surgical procedure is done on an outpatient basis.

Regular follow-up visits are recommended over the next 12 to 18 months to ensure the tubes continue to drain fluids properly. The tubes generally fall out by themselves, although a more permanent type of tube is removed surgically.

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