Myringotomy and Tube Placement

How to care for ear tubes

Ear tubes help to protect from ear infections, middle-ear fluid (liquid behind the eardrum), and the hearing problems that go along with them. Most tubes last about 6 to 18 months, allowing many patients time to heal their ear problems. Most tubes fall out by themselves. The chance of a tube falling in, instead of out, is very rare. Tubes that do not come out after 3 or more years may need to be removed by Dr. Bankaci.

Possible Complications of Ear Tubes

Complications of ear tubes are usually minor. Some patients develop a white mark or patch on the eardrum which is called sclerosis. It does not affect hearing or future chance of ear infections. Some patients develop a small depression or pocket in the eardrum at the tube site after it falls out. Again, this does not affect hearing and rarely requires treatment. About 1-2 out of every 100 patients will develop a small hole (perforation) of the eardrum after the tube falls out. This hole will often close on its own over time, but if it does not, it can be patched in the operating room.

Ear Tubes and Water Precautions

Some patients with ear tubes wear ear plugs when swimming. The ear plugs keep water out of the ear canal and out of the ear tube. However, water does not usually go through the tube during swimming. As a result, ear plugs are not necessary for most children.

Although most patients with ear tubes do not need ear plugs, they may be necessary in the following situations:

  • Pain or discomfort when water enters the ear canal
  • Discharge or drainage is observed from the ear canal
  • Frequent or prolonged episodes of ear drainage

Other times when ear plugs may be needed on an individual basis are:

  • When swimming more than 6 feet under water
  • When swimming in lakes or non-chlorinated pools
  • Dunking head in the bathtub (soapy water has a lower surface tension than plain water)

A variety of soft, fitted ear plugs are available, if needed, as are special neoprene headbands to cover the ears. Once the tube becomes blocked or comes out, ear plugs are not needed if there is no hole in the eardrum.

Ear Tube Follow-up and Aftercare

First post op visit will be in one moth. Routine follow-up visits with Dr. Bankaci every 4 to 6 months are very important to make sure patients' ear tubes are in place and to check for any possible problems. All patients need follow-up visits no matter how they are doing. Especially, children often feel well even when there is a problem with the tube. Once ear tube falls out, your child should return for a final re-check after 6 to 12 months so Dr. Bankaci can check the ears and be sure that fluid has not built up once again.