Ear Tubes

Ear (tympanostomy) tubes are placed in your child’s eardrum to treat recurrent ear infections, fluid behind the eardrum, and abnormal pressure behind the eardrum. They allow air to enter through the eardrum to the middle ear and also allow any fluid to drain from behind the eardrum.

Postoperative Care

Will I be able to see the tubes?

The tubes are very small and you will not be able to see the tubes.

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Will my child be able to feel the tubes?

Your child will not be able to feel the tubes. Most children have little if any discomfort. Some children may pull at their ears. Pain medication is usually not necessary, but Tylenol is recommended if necessary.

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What happens if my child runs a fever?

Your child may run a low-grade fever after surgery. If the fever remains over 102 and is not resolved with Tylenol/Motrin, and the child does not have other cold-like symptoms please call the office.

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Does it hurt to get water in the ears? Does my child need to wear ear plugs when swimming?

Your child should keep their ears dry for two weeks after tube placement. Use cotton in the ears covered by Vaseline on the outside to keep ears dry while bathing or swimming.  After two weeks your child may bathe or shower without ear protection. Children who swim under water may be more susceptible to ear pain or infections. You can protect the ears from excessive water exposure by using cotton balls covered with Vaseline or silicone earplugs. We do not routinely recommend the use of earplugs for children while bathing or swimming in a pool (this includes traditionally chlorinated and salt water pools). If your child is going to be swimming under water in any fresh water source (un-chlorinated) such as a lake or ocean water we do recommend the use of ear plugs.

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Can my child use swimmer’s ear drops in their ears after swimming?

No. The use of swimmer’s ear drops (which contain an acid based liquid), rubbing alcohol, or hydrogen peroxide while the tubes are in place and functioning will lead to intense burning and pain for your child. As a general rule you should only use ear drops prescribed by your child’s doctor as long as the tubes are in place.

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Should I be concerned if there is drainage from the ear?

Drainage from the ear is not unusual after surgery. The drainage can sometimes be pink tinged or yellow. This can happen if there was fluid or an infection at the time of surgery. Please make sure that you give your child eardrops (prescription will be given at the time of surgery). Please call the office if drainage continues for 2-3 days. This is not an emergency and is best discussed with the office during office hours.

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When should we return to see the doctor after surgery?

Your child should return to see us 3 to 6 weeks after surgery. We will most likely repeat your child’s hearing test with this visit.

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How can I reach the doctor after hours?

There is a doctor on call 24 hours. If you need to reach us, please call the office number: 214-494-4150