Ear Tubes & Children

By the age of five, almost every child has experienced an ear infection. In most cases, the infection resolves on its own or can be effectively treated with antibiotics. But in some cases, ear infections, or fluid in the middle ear, can be a chronic problem leading to other issues such as hearing loss, and behavioral and speech problems.

If your child experiences chronic, recurrent ear infections, consider seeing a SLUCare Physician Group otolaryngologist (ENT) at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital. We’ll effectively evaluate your child’s medical history and current situation to decide if ear tubes are right for your child.

Benefits of Ear Tubes

An ear tube is a tiny cylinder made of plastic, metal, or Teflon. It is placed through the eardrum, allowing air into the middle ear. It can provide short- or long-term drainage and ventilation to your child’s middle ear, reducing fluid buildup and chronic middle ear infections. Other benefits include:

  • Restoring hearing loss caused by middle ear fluid
  • Improving speech problems and balance problems
  • Improving  behavior and sleep problems caused by chronic ear infections

Does My Child Need Ear Tubes?

SSM Health Cardinal Glennon ENTs are experts in evaluating and treating chronic ear infections in children. We recommend ear tubes if your child has repeated ear infections (three or more times in six months) or has hearing loss caused by the persistent fluid in the middle ear. Malformation of the ear drum or Eustachian tube, Down Syndrome, cleft palate, and injury to the middle ear caused by a reduction of air pressure, might also require your child to get ear tubes.

Our ENTs have extensive experience in ear tube surgery (myringotomy). This outpatient surgical procedure requires your child to undergo mild anesthesia as an incision is made in the ear drum and tympanic membrane. This is most often done under a surgical microscope with a small scalpel. After surgery, we monitor your child in the recovery room, and provide a prescription for antibiotic ear drops in addition to specific post-operative instructions and follow-up. The benefits of ear tubes are usually experienced immediately after surgery. You’ll be able to take your child home within an hour after the procedure.

If your child is suffering from chronic ear infections, schedule an appointment with an SSM Health Cardinal Glennon ENT today. Don’t delay the pain and frustration of chronic ear infections. Even if ear tubes aren’t the right solution, we’ll find one that best fits your child’s needs.

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