Ear tubes have a number of other names including tympanostomy tubes, ventilation tubes, myringotomy tubes, or pressure equalization tubes. These tubes are tiny, hollow cylinders that are surgically inserted into the eardrum. The purpose of the tubes is to open the middle ear, releasing drainage and allowing air to flow into the middle ear.
Ear tubes are common for children who have persistent fluid buildup in the eardrum, especially if this condition causes hearing loss or impacts speech development. If your child is prone to chronic ear infections, ear tubes may alleviate some of those symptoms. These tubes usually fall out within four to 18 months, and the holes heal shut on their own.
The ear tubes equalize the air pressure in the middle ear, allow air to flow freely into the middle ear, and allow fluids to drain from the middle ear and into the throat.
What can ear tubes treat?
Ear tubes can be used to treat the following conditions:
Middle ear infection — This is caused by a bacterium or virus. The infection leads to inflammation and fluids in the middle ear. The tubes can prevent future infections.
Otitis media with effusion — This refers to the buildup of fluids without signs or symptoms of infection. The fluids can cause hearing loss and balance problems. The tear tubes are important for treatment because hearing loss can cause delayed language development and other delays in learning.
Chronic middle ear infection — Surgery may be the next step if your child experiences bacterial infections that do not respond to antibiotics. The tubes are inserted to drain the ear, which will allow for antibiotic drops to be administered directly into the middle ear.
Chronic suppurative otitis media — This is an ongoing inflammation of the middle ear that results in a tear in the eardrum along with discharge from the ear.
At Ohio Head and Neck Surgeons, we understand your concerns when seeking diagnosis and treatment options for Ear, Nose, and Throat injuries and diseases. Please contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our quality ENT specialists. For more information on scheduling click here.
To prepare for your first appointment, you can also visit our New Patients page to find important forms you will need at your appointment including registration and health history.