Motherhood Monday

Ear Tubes in Toddlers: Why, Who & How

Last month, Ear Tubes was the major topic of discussion in our home. Our youngest son had another ear infection and the doctor brought up the possibility of Ear Tubes in toddlers? I quickly dismissed him and started shaking my head, “Umm, no I don’t think he needs that.” Then I calmed down from the initial shock of my 1-year-old having to actually go through surgery and decided to ask him, “Why?”

Ear Tubes 1

At the time of his appointment, he was 14 months and it was his 4th ear infection. The first 3 times were only in one ear, but now it was in both. It wasn’t as bad as it could have been because we caught it in time. His doctor wanted us to consider getting the tubes if he gets one more infection. Of course I went into “Mommy Research Mode.” 

I called all my friends (Mom’s who are also nurses) who have children with tubes. I spoke with at least 4 women who all told me that the tubes work and it has helped with their children’s ears. Although, one mother told me her son has tubes and has still had two ear infections since then.

The major catalyst in getting ear tubes seems to be if your child’s ear infection clears up completely and still retains fluid or not. So, it’s up to the parents to ask the right questions.

Who needs ear tubes?

  • The guidelines (in my research) addresses children from the age of 6 months to 12 years.
  • Children who have very frequent ear infections and who also hold on to fluid – meaning their infections don’t clear up quickly – are candidates for ear tubes.
  •  Children who have frequent ear infections but who do not have fluid build-up – should NOT be given tubes. 
  • Children who have fluid build-up in both ears for more than three months and experiencing difficulties such as not hearing well in a loud group or when someone speaks to them (a teacher, etc.), should also consider tubes.

Why do ear tubes help?

  • Fluid affects the equilibrium; motor skills and a child’s balance.
  • Children with fluid build-up are at a greater risk from developmental delays. For example, if your child can’t hear how to sound out words correctly, he won’t be able to speak or form words.

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How do they work?

  • The Ear tubes are very small, 1/20th of an inch, and are placed at the end of a child’s ear canal. 
  • They block any fluid build-up by allowing air to pass into the childs’ middle ear to ventilate and eliminate the pressure inside that space.

Are there any play restrictions?

  • Children can play in the water, swim and shower without wearing ear plugs when they have tubes.
  • They will not feel the tubes and over time they will fall out on their own. (That’s the part I had to ask his doctor a million questions about!) Source.

Update: My son’s ear infection cleared up and he does not currently have Ear Tubes. He is now walking and trying to repeat almost everything we say. I was really considering the tubes during the time he was on the ear medication. I pray we won’t have to go down that road, but I have a greater peace if we do.

Does your child have Ear Tubes? How has your experience been?

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8 Comments

  • Reply
    Vicky
    June 9, 2014 at 11:50 am

    My son had chronic ear infections and got them 2x. It affected his speech and he has a pin hole in his eardrum no regrets

  • Reply
    Yolanda @ Seeing It Their Way
    June 9, 2014 at 11:53 am

    My oldest son had tubes placed in his ears twice (and adenoids removed the second go round). Obviously the first set of tubes fell out to soon. But the second surgery was like a light switch. Not only did he no longer get ear infections, but he’s vocabulary tippled over night and his speech became clearer.

    • Reply
      Bernetta
      June 9, 2014 at 1:03 pm

      What! Yolanda I didn’t know that about your son! Geesh! I am glad it all worked out because your little man is full of WORDS!!

  • Reply
    Mandi Buckner
    June 9, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    What an informative post. Thanks for sharing! I don’t have much experience with ear infections but I know many people who have. I had no idea that ear tube fall out on their own! Kudos to you for “mommy research” so many times we just take advice at face value and never investigate for ourselves.

    • Reply
      Bernetta
      June 9, 2014 at 1:03 pm

      Thanks Mandi! I would have never known myself unless the doctor mentioned it. People just don’t discuss certain things, but now so many people have come forth about Ear Tubes.

  • Reply
    Shauntell
    June 9, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    My daughter had to get tubes in 2012, due to reoccurring ear infections. I had my daughter hearing tested prior to the surgery and the results motivated me to have the tubes places. Her tubes are still in place, her hearing is great, and her speaking was not affected.

  • Reply
    Louida
    June 10, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    I had a co worker that daughter got ear tubes dues to ear infections. It didn’t really seem to work because her daughter was still getting them.

  • Reply
    Katherine G
    June 18, 2014 at 11:17 am

    I am so glad that your little man didn’t need tubes. I know a few people who got them for their children and I haven’t heard of the children having anymore infections. I know my daughter use to get a lot of ear infections but tubes were never suggested. I am glad you did the research because doctors do not always know what is best.

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