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When a child experiences repeated ear infections, a doctor may suggest that he or she have surgery to install ear tubes. More than 300,000 kids have surgery to implant ear tubes each year. (Szabo, 8-16-2009) Below you’ll find some general information about ear tube surgery and what it entails.

What are ear tubes, and what do they do?

Myringotomy or tympanostomy are very tiny tubes placed into the eardrums that keep a child’s eustachian tube open, allowing fluid to drain out. This should reduce the number of infections they experience and can also improve hearing.

What’s involved in ear tube surgery?

Installing ear tubes is a minor surgery that involves making a small incision in the eardrum. A child will be put under general anesthesia. Surgery is quick, and a child will usually go home the same day. Complications are a rare.

The ear tubes tend to fall out on their own in anywhere from 6 to 18 months, depending on the surgery. Because of this, about one in three kids will need repeat procedures if their situation does not improve. The hole in their eardrum created by the tubes will usually heal up and close on its own.

How will this procedure affect my child?

Having ear tubes shouldn’t change a child’s day to day life in any way, though they may need to take extra precautions to keep germs out of the tubes. Doctors usually recommend extra precautions when swimming, for example, and advise against underwater submersion.

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