INFECTIONS AND EAR TUBES
AND ADENOID DISEASE
Ear infections are a very common
problem in children. It is estimated that as many as 80% of
all children will have at least one ear infection by the time
they are 3 years old. The first treatment a child is given for
an ear infection is antibiotics. In most cases this will eliminate
the infection. However, after the infection clears, some children
are left with fluid behind the eardrum. In most instances this
fluid will drain out within a few months and the child will be
back to normal. Alternatively this fluid may persist. This
fluid can cause a hearing loss, and it can become reinfected.
When a child has persistent fluid behind the eardrum parents
may notice the hearing loss, and children may fail to develop
clear speech. Children may also develop recurrent infections
of this fluid. They typically will develop another ear infection
shortly after a course of antibiotics is completed. Children
with persistent fluid behind the eardrum, or with frequent ear
infections are candidates for placement of ear tubes.
Parents often agonize over whether
to have tubes placed into their child's ears. Knowing what tubes
do helps with this decision. When tubes are placed in the ears
the fluid behind the eardrums is removed. The tubes are put
in to prevent this fluid from recollecting. By removing the
fluid the child's hearing is improved and the potential for future
infections is significantly reduced. Tubes do not eliminate
all ear infections. However, in most cases, they substantially
decrease the number of infections children have. The improvement
in the child's hearing abilities often leads to rapid progression
of speech development.
The operation to place ear tubes
in children is generally done in the operating room under general
anesthesia. The whole procedure requires approximately 10 to
15 minutes of anesthetic. The risks involved with this short
duration of anesthesia are minimal. A parent is generally allowed
to be with their child as soon as they wake up from anesthesia.
In most cases children have minimal or no pain after surgery
and they resume normal activities within 24 hours.
Your pediatrician or family physician
will usually manage these infections until they feel surgery
may be indicated. A referral to an ear, nose and throat surgeon
may be helpful in guiding this decision. The surgeons at Berks
ENT Surgical Associates are all highly experienced in tonsil
and adenoid surgery and can assist you in this decision.
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