Everything a Parent Needs to Know About Ear Tube Surgery

If your child is slated for ear tube surgery, then you may have a couple questions. Ear tube surgery is a solution for issues related to the ear, whether your child has multiple and frequent ear infections, fluid buildup in the middle ear, or hearing loss or speech problems related to the ear.

If you believe your child may need this procedure, worry not -- Ear, Nose, Throat (ENT) doctor Terry Baker and our team in Idaho Falls, Idaho, can help diagnose and safely treat your child. Our caring and knowledgeable team is here to educate you about ear tube surgery.

What is an ear tube?

An ear tube is, just as it sounds, a tiny tube that is made out of metal or plastic. During surgery, the ear tube is surgically inserted into your child’s eardrum in the middle ear. The presence of the tube allows air to flow in the middle ear, which can reduce fluid buildup and pressure on the ear.

Ear tube surgery is common

Many young children have issues related to ear infections, so this surgery is performed fairly often. In fact, it is the most common childhood surgery in the United States. The average age for children to undergo ear tube surgery is around 1-3 years old, but it can also be performed on babies.

The procedure is relatively quick

The procedure itself is fairly quick, running from around 8-15 minutes. Due to the sensitive nature of the ear, we will put your child under general anesthesia during the surgery. After the surgery, we will let your child recover for several minutes before sending them home with you on that same day.

Follow-up care is important

Following your child’s surgery, you’ll leave with a full and detailed list of instructions for how to optimize your child’s care. This will include antibiotic ear drops that you can place in your child's ear, ear plugs for when your child swims, and possibly hearing tests, depending on your child’s situation.

In any case, follow-up appointments will be useful for assessing your child’s progress in healthy hearing and speech development.

The ear tubes will fall out naturally

After several months, the ear tubes will fall out naturally from your child’s ear, once there is space in the middle ear. Many parents are curious about how long this will take, and the simple answer is that it depends on the child.

It usually takes anywhere from 6-18 months for the ear tube to fall out. After the tube falls out, your child’s ear infections will most likely have resolved, meaning they will no longer occur. If not, we will explore placing another ear tube or alternative treatment options.

If you would like to learn more about ear tube surgery, call to schedule an appointment with Dr. Baker today.

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