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After Tympanostomy (Ear Tubes)

Your child’s hearing should improve once the tubes are in place. For best results, follow up as instructed by your child’s doctor. In some cases, ear problems may continue. However, you can help prevent ear infections by using good ear care.

Toddler boy sitting on exam table with woman standing nearby. Healthcare provider is using instrument to look inside boy's ear.

Follow-up

  • Shortly after the surgery, your child’s doctor may want to examine your child. This follow-up visit ensures that the tubes are still in place and that your child’s ears are healing.

  • After the initial follow-up, the doctor may want to see your child every 2 months to 6 months. Do your best to keep these visits. They’re the only way to make sure the tubes remain in place and stay open.

  • Most tubes stay in place for 6 months to 18 months. Some last longer. The life of the tube often depends on your child’s growth. Most tubes fall out on their own. In rare cases, tubes need to be removed by the doctor.

Fewer Problems

  • Even with tubes, your child may still get acute infections. Cranky behavior, ear drainage, and fever are all clues that you should be calling the doctor. However, as long as the tubes are working, you can expect fewer problems and a quicker recovery.

  • If an infection does occur, it will likely respond to antibiotic ear drops. For more severe infections, oral antibiotics may be needed. Always make sure your child finishes the entire prescription. Otherwise, the medication will not work. Use only ear drops prescribed by your child’s provider.

Ear Care

  • Ask the doctor if your child’s ears should be protected from contact with water. Some doctors want children with tubes to wear earplugs during swimming and bathing if they put their heads under water.

  • Make sure your child doesn’t dive into the water or swim far beneath the surface in deep water. Pressure from these activities can be hard on the ears.

  • Do not use alcohol or pain drops in the ears while the tubes are in place.

  • Teach your child not to use cotton swabs. Used carelessly, they can clog tubes with wax or even damage the eardrum.

  • Don’t worry: Neither fingers nor earplugs can push the tubes in or pull them out.

 

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