Ear infections in children are very common. Because the ear hasn’t developed fully yet, it is more susceptible to get infected. There are three main types of ear infections in children:
- Acute Otitis media is the most common ear infection and occurs when fluid is trapped behind the eardrum. Parts of the middle ear will also become swollen and infected causing pain in the ear.
- Otitis media with effusion occurs when an ear infection appears to have run its course but fluid is still trapped behind the eardrum. Doctors are able to see this with special instruments and can advise the parent on the next course of action to cure the infection.
- Chronic otitis media with effusion is when fluid continuously returns and remains in the middle ear. In some cases the fluid will return over and over again, even if there is no infection. This type of ear infection could eventually affect the child’s hearing.
Otolaryngologists see many children every year to evaluate recurrent ear infections that are not adequately treated by antibiotics or other medications. Often, but not always, these children require the ear tube placement.
How Do Ear Tubes Work?
The way ear tubes control ear infections is by ventilating the space behind the ear drum which relieves the vacuum or negative pressure that can build up behind the drum. This allows for normal aeration of the space behind the drum, called the middle ear space, which keeps fluid from being pulled out of the lining of that space. That fluid produces an environment that’s favorable for bacteria to grow. If the fluid is not present, ear infections cease.
The placement of ear tubes is a common outpatient procedure. In children, this procedure is performed with the assistance of general anesthesia and takes approximately 5 to 10 minutes to complete. In most adults, the procedure can be complete with only topical numbing medication. Tubes are meant to come out of the ear drum at around 9 to 12 months after their placement.
Does My Child Need Ear Tubes?
Ear tubes are placed for several reasons but the most common on is ear infections. If you or your child has had more than 3-4 ear infections in a 6-12 month period or if an ear infection persists despite 3 antibiotics, ear tubes are indicated.
Ears tubes are placed with the assistance of a microscope. Your doctor will look at your eardrum with a microscope then use a small surgical scalpel to make a tiny incision in the bottom of you ear drum. The fluid behind the drum will be removed then the tube will be placed. No stitches are required and the tube is not visible to the naked eye.
The risks of placing ear tubes include occasional ear drainage, the possibility or requiring more ear tubes, the possibility that the hole in the eardrum will not close when the tube comes out and the possibility of hearing loss.
If you’re concerned that your child has an ear infection, please don’t hesitate to contact us today. Ear infections are fun for no one, and we’re prepared to take immediate action to resolve the issue.
Call Northeast Georgia ENT at (770) 536-4352 for more information or to schedule an appointment.