Ear Tube Surgery
Ear tube surgery, also known as myringotomy, is a common procedure for children who experience frequent ear infections or fluid buildup in the middle ear.
The surgery involves making a small incision in the eardrum and inserting a tiny tube to help drain fluid and equalize pressure in the ear.
While the procedure is generally safe and effective, parents may have questions about what to expect after the surgery.
In this article, I will cover everything you need to know about what to expect after ear tube surgery in toddlers.
Why are Ear Tubes Used in Toddlers
Ear tubes are used in toddlers who have frequent ear infections. Ear infections are common in toddlers, and most children will have at least one ear infection by the age of three.
However, some toddlers get ear infections more often than others.
If a toddler has six or more ear infections in a year, or if ear infections are causing hearing loss or other problems, the doctor may recommend ear tube surgery.
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What Happens During Ear Tube Surgery
Ear tube surgery is usually done as an outpatient procedure. This means that the toddler will go home the same day as the surgery.
The surgery is done under general anesthesia, so the toddler will be asleep during the procedure. Doctor will make a small incision in the eardrum.
The ear tube will then be inserted into the middle ear. The ear tube will stay in place for several months to a year. After that, it will usually fall out on its own.
Recovery After Ear Tube Surgery in Toddlers
Most toddlers recover quickly from ear tube surgery. They may experience some pain and swelling in the first few days after surgery. The doctor will prescribe pain medication to help with any pain.
Toddlers may also have some drainage from their ears after surgery. This is normal and should stop within a few days. The doctor may recommend using a cotton ball to catch any drainage.
Toddlers should avoid swimming for two weeks after ear tube surgery. This is to prevent water from getting into the middle ear and causing an infection.
What to Expect in the First Few Days
In the first few days after ear tube surgery, your toddler may experience:
- Pain and swelling around the ear
- Drainage from the ears
- Ear popping
- Ear fullness
The pain and swelling should go away within a few days with the help of pain medication. The drainage should also stop within a few days. Ear popping and ear fullness are common after ear tube surgery and should not be cause for concern. If your toddler has a fever, contact your doctor.
What to Expect in the First Few Weeks
In the first few weeks after ear tube surgery, your toddler may experience:
- Increased hearing
- Decreased ear infections
- Improved sleep
The increased hearing may be noticeable right away. Your toddler may be able to hear sounds that they couldn’t hear before.
The decreased ear infections may take a few weeks to happen. Your toddler may still get ear infections, but they should be less frequent.
The improved sleep may also take a few weeks to happen. Your toddler may be able to sleep through the night without waking up with ear pain.
What to Expect in the Months and Years After Surgery
In the months and years after ear tube surgery, your toddler’s ear tubes may fall out on their own. This usually happens within a year after surgery.
If your toddler’s ear tubes do not fall out on their own, the doctor may need to remove them. Ear tubes do not prevent all ear infections.
However, they can help to reduce the number of ear infections that your toddler gets. Ear tubes can also help to improve your toddler’s hearing and sleep.
Complications of ear tube surgery
Ear tube surgery is a relatively safe procedure. However, there are some potential complications, including:
- Eardrum perforation
- Hearing loss
Benefits of Ear Tube Surgery in Toddlers
- Reduced number of ear infections: Ear tubes can help to reduce the number of ear infections that toddlers get. This can help to improve their hearing and sleep, and it can also reduce the need for antibiotics.
- Improved hearing: Ear tubes can help to improve hearing in toddlers who have fluid in their middle ears. This can help them to better understand speech and participate in activities.
- Improved sleep: Ear tubes can help toddlers to sleep through the night without waking up with ear pain. This can improve their overall health and well-being.
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Alternatives to Ear Tube Surgery
There are a few alternatives to ear tube surgery for toddlers who have frequent ear infections. These include:
- Antimicrobial ear drops: Antimicrobial ear drops can help to treat ear infections and prevent them from coming back.
- Aural toileting: Aural toileting is a technique that involves cleaning the ears with a soft cloth or cotton swab.
Ear tube surgery can be a helpful treatment for toddlers who have frequent ear infections.
The surgery is usually safe and effective. Most toddlers recover quickly from ear tube surgery and experience few complications.
What to Expect After Ear Tube Surgery in Toddlers – FAQs
Ear tube surgery typically takes less than 15 minutes to complete.
Your child may experience some mild discomfort or pain in the ear after the surgery, but over-the-counter pain relievers can help manage the pain.
Ear tubes are designed to stay in place for several months to a few years before falling out on their own.
Potential complications of ear tube surgery can include infection, bleeding, and scarring of the eardrum.
You should call your child’s doctor if your child experiences fever, severe pain, excessive drainage from the ear, or signs of infection after ear tube surgery.
Your child can typically resume swimming after ear tube surgery. However, it’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions and wait until the incision has fully healed.
Your doctor may prescribe ear drops to use after ear tube surgery. These drops can help prevent infection and keep the ears clean.
The healing time after ear tube surgery can vary, but it typically takes about one to two weeks for the incision to heal completely.
Most children can safely fly in an airplane after ear tube surgery. However, it’s important to consult with your child’s doctor before traveling.
Ear tube surgery is typically performed to improve hearing by allowing fluid to drain from the middle ear.
Most children can return to school within a day or two after ear tube surgery.