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Ear Tubes For Ear Infections. Does your Child need them? | RMHP Blog

Ear Tubes For Ear Infections. Does your Child need them? | RMHP Blog



What Parents Should Know About Ear Tubes For Ear Infections

People of all ages can get ear infections, but they are especially common among children. In fact, according to the National Institutes of Health, ear infections are the most common reason for doctor visits in children.

Most ear infections are treated with antibiotics, but in some cases, ear tubes may be necessary. Here’s what parents need to know, including how tubes work and signs your child needs them.

How ear tubes work

Ear tubes are small cylinders that are typically made out of plastic or metal. To understand how they work, it’s helpful to learn how ear infections occur.

Most ear infections affect the middle ear, which is the area located between the eardrum and the inner ear. Fluid from the middle ear is supposed to drain through the Eustachian tubes, which connect to the nasal passages.

If the Eustachian tubes swell, fluid will build up in the middle ear and cause pain and discomfort. Ear tubes are substitutes for Eustachian tubes that aren’t working properly.

How the ear tube surgery is performed

Myringotomy is the procedure that is performed to place ear tubes in your child’s ears. During myringotomy, the surgeon will make a small incision in the eardrum, which will allow the fluid from the middle ear to drain and relieve pressure inside the ear. Then, the surgeon will place an ear tube in this opening to prevent fluid from reaccumulating.

The tubes will usually fall out on their own as the hole in the eardrum begins to heal. In some cases, they may need to be surgically removed.

Signs your child may need ear tubes

Most ear infections are treated with antibiotics or anti-inflammatories. But a doctor may recommend ear tubes if your child:

  • Has had fluid in their middle ear for at least three months
  • Has had three or more ear infections within six months
  • Has had a chronic ear infection that is not responding to antibiotics
  • Has suffered ear trauma
  • Is experiencing hearing loss as a result of the fluid buildup in their middle ear

If your child meets one or more of these conditions, ear tubes might be the most effective way to treat their ear infections. Schedule an appointment with their doctor as soon as possible, especially if symptoms are severe and painful. Rocky Mountain Health Plans (RMHP) Members who want to find a provider for their child can use our convenient online provider search tool to find the right doctor.

What questions to ask your child’s doctor

Ask these questions, and others, before making a decision about ear tubes:

  • What are the risks involved?
  • Will the tubes need to be surgically removed, or will they fall out on their own?
  • What are the chances that ear tubes will successfully treat my child’s ear infections?
  • Are there any non-surgical alternatives?
  • How long will it take to recover from surgery?

Every child’s situation is unique, but the answers to these questions will help you make an informed decision regarding your child’s healthcare.