One Too Many Ear Infections
Ear infections are common in children from 1-3 years old. Pesky Infections happen due to a buildup of fluid in the middle ear. The Eustachian tube connects the middle ear and nose. Since the tube is underdeveloped in infants and toddlers, mucus from a cold or sinus can get stuck. Most ear infections go away without treatment. However, painful, frequent infections may need tympanostomy surgery. This is the most common surgery performed on children.
How is tympanostomy surgery done?
An ENT or otolaryngologist is qualified to perform the surgery. The goal is to insert tiny tubes called tympanostomy tubes to help excess fluid drain out of the ear. The procedure lasts about 30 minutes and is done under general anesthesia. The ENT uses microscopic tools to make a small incision in the eardrum. Next, the surgeon drains the excess fluid from the middle ear. The ear tubes are then inserted into the slit made on the eardrum. Tympanostomy surgery is an outpatient procedure, meaning the patient can leave the hospital in a few hours. To ensure a smooth recovery, both the parent and child should be aware of the next steps.
Expect a rise in temperature
Fever is common during the first 72 hours after surgery. The temperature should not exceed 102 degrees. Make sure to monitor the child’s fever using a doctor recommended thermometer. Use over-the-counter medication to help with the fever. If the temperature exceeds 102 for more than 3 days, get in contact with the doctor.
Look out for leaking liquid
During the first few days, excess fluid will start to drain out of the ear. The drainage is a positive sign that the ear tubes are working. The discharge may have blood or mucus and will run down the outer ear and neck. The doctor will likely have prescribed antibiotic ear drops. Make sure to use the ear drops during recovery. The ear tubes help to funnel the antibiotics to the middle ear, speeding up recovery. Remember, the discharge is normal. If the liquid looks green and happens for a week or more, see the ENT immediately.
Loud sounds and ear protection
As recovery progresses, parents may notice the child’s response to loud noises. Sounds will be louder as there is reduced blockage and pressure in the ear. Over time, the ear will adjust to the new normal. During recovery, use earplugs for swimming and even the bathtub to prevent any further infections.
Removing those tiny tubes
Over time, the eardrums will start healing. This pushes the ear tubes out of the hole in the eardrum. The tubes will then fall out of the ears, sometimes without warning. In some instances, ear tubes get stuck mainly due to wax buildup. The ENT can remove the blockage during follow up visits. On rare occasions, the pipes could remain lodged in the eardrum. At this point, the ENT performs a simple procedure to remove the tube and close the eardrum.
Better recovery means a better ear
Tympanostomy surgery is a safe procedure to help young children fight ear infections. The process has little pain and a high success rate. Children undergoing surgery will also benefit from improved sleep, fewer ear infections, and faster recovery. Make sure to follow the instructions of the doctor during recovery. If ear infections are becoming the norm, speak with an ENT about ear tubes today.