Myringotomy (Ear tubes) Symptoms & Causes

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In-Depth

What are the risks and benefits of ear tubes?

The risks and benefits will be different for each child. It is important to weigh the pros and cons with your child's physician and surgeon.

Benefits

  • Ear tubes help to reduce the risk of future ear infections.
  • Hearing is restored in some children who experience hearing problems.
  • Speech development is not harmed.
  • Ear tubes allow time for your child to mature and for the eustachian tube to work more efficiently. (By the age of 5 years, the eustachian tube becomes wider and longer, thus, allowing for better drainage of fluids from the ears.)
  • Children's behavior, sleep, and communication may be improved if ear infections were causing problems.

Risks

  • Some children with ear tubes continue to have ear infections.
  • There may be problems with the tubes coming out:
  • The tubes usually fall out on there own in about one year. After they fall out, if ear infections recur, they may need to be replaced.
  • If they remain in the ear too long, the surgeon may need to remove them.
  • About 30 percent of children with tubes have to have tubes reinserted within five years.
  • After they come out, they may leave a small scar in the eardrum. This may cause some hearing loss.
  • Some children may develop an infection after the tubes are inserted.
  • Sometimes, after the tube comes out, a small hole may remain in the eardrum. This hole may need to be repaired with surgery.
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