Surgery for middle ear infections (acute otitis media) often means placing a drainage tube into the eardrum of one or both ears. It's one of the most common childhood operations. While the child is under general anesthesia, the surgeon cuts a small hole in the eardrum and inserts a small plastic tube in the opening (myringotomy or tympanostomy with tube placement).
The tubes will ventilate the middle ear after the fluid is gone. And they help relieve hearing problems.
Swimmer's ear is usually not a dangerous condition and often clears up within a few days after starting treatment. However, if untreated, it can become extremely and surprisingly painful. In rare cases, especially in diabetes patients or anyone with problems with their immune system, the infection may be more difficult to treat and can spread and damage underlying bones and cartilage, requiring hospitalization.
Your doctor may gently clean your ear with a cotton-tipped probe or a suction device...
Doctors consider tube placement for children who have had repeat infections or fluid behind the eardrum in both ears for 3 to 4 months and have trouble hearing. Sometimes they consider tubes for a child who has fluid in only one ear but also has trouble hearing.
Most tubes stay in place for about 6 to 12 months, after which they usually fall out on their own. After the tubes are out, the hole in the eardrum usually closes in 3 to 4 weeks. Some children need tubes put back in their ears because fluid behind the eardrum returns.
In rare cases, tubes may scar the eardrum and lead to permanent hearing loss.
Doctors suggest tubes if fluid behind the eardrum or ear infections keep coming back. Learn the pros and cons of this surgery. Before deciding, ask how the surgery can help or hurt your child and how much it will cost.
Surgeons sometimes operate to close a ruptured eardrum that hasn't healed in 3 to 6 months, though this is rare. The eardrum usually heals on its own within a few weeks.
If your child has a ruptured eardrum or has ear tubes in place, your doctor will recommend ear protection, including caution with water. The ear could get infected if any germs in the water get into the ear. If your doctor says it?s okay, your child may use earplugs. Or your doctor may have other advice for you. He or she can tell you when the hole in the eardrum has healed and when it?s okay to go back to regular water activities.
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
May 09, 2011
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