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Ear Tubes Offer Youngsters Relief from Recurring Infections

Ear tubes can help kids and teens with middle-ear infections feel better and return to school in little time.

My 2-year-old has recurring ear infections. Could ear tubes help?

“Yes. The surgical placement of ear tubes is recommended as part of the treatment for repeated middle-ear infections,” says Maritza Homs, M.D., a board-certified Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic. “The surgery is performed by an ENT specialist as an outpatient procedure with the patient usually returning to day care or school the next day.”

Dr. Homs says when a child has a cold, one or both of their Eustachian tubes – tubes that help ears drain fluid and keep air pressure at the right level – may become blocked, trapping fluid and providing an environment for germs to thrive and cause infection.

“Because children have smaller Eustachian tubes, middle-ear infections are common, especially among 2-year-olds and younger,” she says. “Tiny synthetic tubes are suspended through the ear drum into the middle-ear space, allowing air to flow into the middle ear and fluid to drain out.”

Dr. Homs says that recurring ear infections can also be present in teens and adults. Symptoms usually include fever along with pain and pressure in the infected ear. A regimen of antibiotics may be necessary to resolve the infection.

“For chronic ear infections, I strongly recommend having your child examined by a pediatrician or an ENT specialist to assess treatment options, which may include inserting ear tubes,” she advises.

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Maritza Homs, MD

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