For the treatment of persistent fluid buildup causing chronic ear infections, ear tubes are small tubes, made of several different materials, which are inserted into the eardrum to keep the middle ear aerated for a prolonged period of time.
Ear tubes usually have a very simple recovery after surgery. The procedure usually only takes a couple of minutes and typically has only mild discomfort afterwards. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and/or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) can be taken to ease any pain. You will usually be given either ear drops or a prescription to pick up those drops. The drops are used twice a day for several days to help with healing. The number of drops and length of use can vary depending on what is seen in the ear at the time of surgery, so verify with your doctor how long they should be used. Drops are best placed by lying on one side, placing the drops, then pushing on the tragus to help pump the drops through the ear tube.
Water avoidance is usually not necessary after ear tubes. If your child begins to get ear infections after getting water in the ears or if the water causes discomfort, ear plugs should be used to keep the ears dry. Silicone plugs work best to keep water out. Some parents prefer a combination of silicone ear plugs and a neoprene headband such as the Ear band-it. Once the tubes are in, they should be checked periodically (at least annually) by your doctor to ensure they are working appropriately and there are no problems with the ear tube or ear drum. The checkups should continue until the tube comes out and the drum heals.
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