Should your child get ear tubes?
July 1st, 2013
06:19 PM ET

Should your child get ear tubes?

Parents of young children may be all too familiar with the ear aches, ear infections, and middle ear fluid build-up that can plague their little ones.

For many of these children, ear tubes, known clinically as tympanostomy tubes, may be the best treatment. But until now, there has been no clinical guideline to advise doctors and parents on which children should - or should not - receive them.  A multidisciplinary panel associated with the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery Foundation (also known as AAO-HNSF) has changed that, releasing new guidelines on Monday.

"You've got the number-one ambulatory surgery in kids, the number-one reason they are given anesthesia, and no national society has ever published evidence-based guidelines about the best way to do this," said Dr. Richard Rosenfeld, a professor and chairman of otolaryngology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York.

"It seemed like a huge deficit," said Rosenfeld, who chaired the AAO-HNSF panel.

Who should get ear tubes?

The guideline addresses ear tubes in children ranging in age from 6 months to 12 years. It was written by a panel of specialists that included pediatricians, a nurse practitioner, an anesthesiologist, a speech pathologist, consumer advocates and ear, nose and throat specialists, among others.

According to the guideline, children who have very frequent ear infections and who also hold on to fluid - meaning their infections don't clear up quickly - are candidates for ear tubes. However, the guideline says tubes should not be given to children who have frequent ear infections but who do not have fluid build-up - a major deviation from what typically happens in clinical practice.

"This is one of the most new and significant things being recommended," said Rosenfeld. "You have to distinguish between the kids whose infections clear up completely and the ones who hold on to fluid."

That means parents should question doctors on whether their child's ears contain fluid, Rosenfeld said. If they do not, according to the guideline, ear tubes should be avoided.

In addition, children who have had fluid build-up in both ears for more than three months and are experiencing difficulties such as not hearing well in loud group situations or listening to someone speak who is not looking at them - a teacher writing on a chalkboard, for example - should also be offered tubes, according to the guideline. That also goes for children who have had fluid build-up for more than three months in only one year, but whose quality of life is being affected by it, Rosenfeld said.

"There's an effect on gross motor skills, on a child's balance," he explained.  "Fluid that is affecting your equilibrium benefits from tubes."

Children who are at higher risk for fluid build-up-related developmental delays should also be given tubes. That includes children diagnosed with autism, permanent hearing loss, Down syndrome or any other developmental delay.

How they work

The small tubes, about 1/20th of an inch, are placed at the end of a child's ear canal while the child is under light general anesthesia. They're designed to alleviate any fluid build-up by allowing air to pass into the child's middle ear to ventilate and eliminate the pressure inside that space.

Children with tubes are able to play in the water, swim, and bathe without wearing ear plugs - something that isn't common knowledge, according to Rosenfeld. Children swimming in water at least six feet deep are the only ones who should be concerned with wearing ear protection, he said.

"That advice is given under the common-sense pretense that water can get in to the tube ... but that's not the case," he said. "Water simply does not pass through a hole that small easily."

Children should not be able to feel the tubes while they have them and over time, they should fall out on their own as wax and debris build up inside the ear.

soundoff (1,193 Responses)
  1. Bob

    Both of my daughters did... constant ear infections until the tubes were put in. After that, no problems.... for my kids they worked great.

    July 1, 2013 at 21:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Poppa

      People, please listen. MY kids went through the same thing. Constant earaches...Constant colds and infections. One would get it and clear up and the next would flare up. A never ending battle. The constant use of antibiotics was a real concern for me. We were recommended to have ear-tubes placed in our two year old as the infections were so common they were worried about her speech development.

      I happened to overhear a conversation between two doctors at a gym and one was going through the same thing. The other doctor recommended humidity! I went home and added a humidifier into my heating/cooling system and that took care of the issues within days! The difference was astounding! Please, before you resort to surgery, check into increasing the humidity in your home. IF you have central air, AC dries out the air in the summer and Forced hot air dries it out in the winter. The drying leads to dry ear canals which crack and become irritated and infected. The unit i installed is placed in-line with the venting. Air coming out of the unit passes through a box that humidifies the air and then returns into the venting. Everything is done right at the air handling unit.

      It is NOT expensive. I bought a unit at my local hardware store for under $100 and installed it myself. I'm handy though, and you may need some help, but it is not difficult.

      It's well worth the cost to see f it works before you submit your child to invasive procedures.

      Good luck to ALL!
      Peace, Poppa

      July 2, 2013 at 07:35 | Report abuse |
    • PYM

      Happy your simple solution fixed the problem. However, ear infections for which ear tubes are being considered have nothing to do with the ear canals, but rather the middle ear. Any beneficial effect of humidity would have to do with prevention of nasal dryness and crusting, which in some cases might adversely affect Eustachian tube function.
      As a more general point, although this might not apply to you, I find that people often seem to misunderstand ear anatomy. The eardrum is impervious to fluids of any type. This in fact is why kids and adults sometimes build up fluid in the middle ear. Therefore, NOTHING that you put in the ear canal when the eardrum is intact (i.e without a tube or perforation) will have an effect on the status of the middle ear. This applies to oils, pool water, antibiotic drops, urine (see below????).
      Hope this is helpful to some.

      July 3, 2013 at 09:00 | Report abuse |
    • LaFawn Davis

      My oldest daughter did not have them. We were regulars–almost weekly during winter months–in the pediatrician's office. One morning my husband said, "You know, we need to just have direct deposit between my checking account and this office." When my son was born, he started having constant ear infections, too. I finally said I had had enough. I talked about it with the nurse in the doctor's waiting room. The pediatrician that I asked about ear tubes said that they put scars on a child's ear drum I said. The nurse said, "Yes, that's true. But it's one scar. Repeated ear infections put many scars on the ear drum. I told the doctor that I wanted to explore putting ear tubes in my son's ears. He reluctantly gave me a referral to an otolaryngologist. We had the surgery done. I will have to admit, it was scary handing your crying toddler to people to take them back to surgery, but it was one of the best decisions we ever made health wise for one of our children. My son immediately ceased having the ear infections. Our checking account returned to some semblance of normalcy. When our son got a certain age, they were removed. As a mom, I highly recommend them.

      July 20, 2013 at 12:11 | Report abuse |
    • Eric

      I had constant ear infections growing up and most doctors were against tubes, because they were still new. Instead, I was prescribed nasal sprays. I'm now 37 and had two major ear surgeries, including removing a tumor that formed behind my ear drum – rupturing it. My EMT, who is considered the "premier" EMT in Illinois explained all of this could have been avoided if I was able to get them as a child. Now, I have a daughter that is going through the same thing. Constant ear infections and EMTS are pushing nasal sprays.We have been to 3. Luckily, we found one willing to do it. Get tubes and be aggressive with these doctors – a lot of them are morons.

      August 26, 2015 at 09:49 | Report abuse |
  2. Cathleen

    My son had a series of ear infections (5 to be exact) over the course of 3 months at 16 months old. The ENT that our pediatrician referred us to actual thinks it may have been one long, ear infection that never went away. The fluid in his ear got so bad it turned into "glue" and the ENT had to remove it during the ear tube surgery. I worried so much about the decision. We even went one more round of antibiotics (his 5th course in those 3 months) to see if it would clear up. Two days after finishing, back comes the fever. The surgery was quick, he recovered very quickly (same day) and he went nearly 2 years without an ear infection and by the time he got his next one, his natural tubes had matured enough that he cleared it quickly. Was a struggle to keep water away but if you are good with drops and prevention, you will be fine. Best thing we'd done. Wish we'd done it sooner.

    July 1, 2013 at 22:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • WendyF

      Our daughter's ear fluid ALSO had turned into a glue-like substance! It was causing her hearing problems, and as soon as those tubes went in, things were so much better! We've had one ear infection since, and it's been a year and a half. One has fallen out and the other is on its way out.

      July 2, 2013 at 15:02 | Report abuse |
  3. Tricia

    Our son had consistent ear fluid which caused his hearing to be impaired. We had tubes done @ 20 months and it has made a world of difference for our son! He can hear! One year later and complete success. We highly recommend if needed.

    July 1, 2013 at 22:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • MysticYat

      Bet you also found that as soon as the tubes were put in, your son turned into a veritable chatter box. I hadn't realized that the ear issue was affecting my sons speech development, until the tubes went in and suddenly his speech/language blossomed.

      July 1, 2013 at 23:32 | Report abuse |
  4. Jesse

    As a parent, I am torn on tubes. I have 2 children that have had tubes a number of times. My 16 year old has had tubes 4 times, had them removed once and the holes plugged. He has also had his adnoids and tonsils removed. He still suffers from hearing issues, but very few ear infections. My now 9 year old has had them 3 times and removed and plugged once. He also suffers from hearing issues, but very few ear infections. My wife had tubes three times as a child and suffers ear infections frequently (2-3) a year. I honestly don't know if they really did any good compared with the hearing issues now vs. the few ear infections!!

    July 1, 2013 at 23:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • MysticYat

      Sounds to me like your family's issue isn't really the ear infections, but rather a congenital issue with your Eustachean Tubes (the tube that drains the inner ear). If the Eustachean Tube is abnormally narrow (like mine are) then your ears become blocked much more easily that most people and, therefore, even though you've had tubes you still have the repeated issues as soon as your eardrum closes after tubes are removed. I can say that because I have suffered from that for 60 years – I've had tubes 3 times as an adult AND have had my eardrum rupture 4 times due to fluid build up when I couldn't get an ENT that would put in tubes fast enough.

      July 1, 2013 at 23:29 | Report abuse |
    • s

      It could be that all of the people in your family may need to get their tonsils out...I had tubes in my ears and when they took my tonsils out I did not have anymore problems...Something to consider!!!

      July 2, 2013 at 05:25 | Report abuse |
    • LW

      My daughter has permanent hearing loss, due to tubes. She had tubes done twice when she was 4, then 5 and has had 5 patch surgeries to try to repair the remaining holes. (3 in one ear, 2 in the other) Doctors don't advertise the risks. I would not recommend this to others. Do your research, don't set yourself up for regret.

      July 2, 2013 at 08:10 | Report abuse |
  5. Steven

    I had many ear infections as a child and never once was I offered tubes. I began to experience hearing loss and by the time I was 23, I was nearly deaf in one ear and severely limited in another. I began to have significant trouble with social activities and work. I had gotten so fed up with going to one ENT after another who either told me they didn't have a resolution or simply put me on antibiotics with a recheck month after month. I decided to take charge and changed ENT's and selected an Otalaryngologist instead. Within 5 minutes, I was diagnosed with having a cholesteatoma in one ear and severe blockage in another. Not only were my eustachian tubes failing but this also caused negative pressure inside the ear canal resulting in a non-carcinogenic tumor to have formed referred to as a cholesteatoma. It is not an uncommon condition! The acids it creates significantly dissolved a lot of the bones required for hearing and so these needed to be repaired. I won't bore you on the details of the surgery but I had about 80% of my hearing restored after the surgery in 2008 but I now have to go in regularly to ensure the disease has not returned. My advice is that you get your ears checked regularly and if you're not confident with the answer given to you, question it! It saved my life because had I kept the staus quo, it would've eventually led to meningitis. My story is not unusual... Tubes would've saved this from occurring. I am forever thankful to Dr. Agha in Bakersfield, CA

    July 1, 2013 at 23:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • MysticYat

      Sugarbear – ENT's and Otolaryngologists are the same medical specialty – it's just the old layman's term versus the actual medical term for the same medical care profession.

      July 1, 2013 at 23:24 | Report abuse |
    • Steven

      I'd have to disagree. Otolaryngologists have more training than your normal run-of-the-mill Ear, Nose, & Throat Dr's. If you recall, i did my research and I also work with physicians of many different specialties everyday. They can do more complex surgeries and are specialized in many more things. It's like the difference between a Family Practice and Pediatrician; a Physiatrist vs. Orthopedist; an Optometrist vs. Ophthalmologist; a Psychologist vs. Psychiatrist.

      July 1, 2013 at 23:39 | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      The term Otolaryngologist, literally translated from the Greek, is Ear Nose Larynx (throat) study. Or "The study of the ear nose and throat." Hence, an Otolaryngologists is an ENT specialist. Not to say that you didn't find an exceptionally good one after having a long string who weren't. But, as far as the terminology goes, they're the same thing.

      Whatever you want to call the,. glad to hear you finally found someone who could clear the problems for you.

      July 2, 2013 at 08:25 | Report abuse |
    • Susan

      Steven, I have to disagree with your assessment of professionals in health care. An Otolaryngologist is an ENT. There is no difference between the two. They are both trained as a medical doctor and specialize in head and neck disorders. You can not compare them to an Optometrist vs. Ophthalmologist or a Psychologist vs. Psychiatrist. An optometrist is not a medical doctor, they have a clinical doctorate, same thing with the psychologist.

      July 2, 2013 at 13:09 | Report abuse |
    • Tina

      Yes, they are the same. "ENT" is just a shortened way of saying it.

      July 2, 2013 at 23:21 | Report abuse |
    • PYM

      Perhaps you are thinking of an OTOLOGIST, who would be someone who completed a residency in otolaryngology (ENT) and then did a fellowship in otology, to specialize in medical and surgical treatment of ear problems.

      July 3, 2013 at 08:34 | Report abuse |
  6. Skye

    Had them as a child but only after I lost some of my hearing

    July 1, 2013 at 23:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. MysticYat

    Great decision on the part of the medical community. The tubes are a fabulous option for kids with fluid build up issues. My son got them at 11 months – his repeated ear infections (he'd get an infection, go on antibiotics for 10 days, infection would return within 7-10 days after he stopped antibiotics) put him into a "failure to thrive" status because he was always sick. As soon as he got the tubes, the infections stopped and never came back.

    July 1, 2013 at 23:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Leena

    My son had ear infections and fluid in the ears for nearly a year and was offered tubes. I was really upset about the surgery/ansthesia on little kid. Came across a website called earallergy.com, which suggested allergy as a possible reason for fluid in the ear. It occurred to me that my son started having the ear infections around the same time he switched from breast milk to cow's milk. we stopped cows milk and started him on soy. My pediatrician wasn't happy when I mentioned this, he went ahead and scheduled the surgery for tubes. When we went for the preop checkup, he had been out of cow's milk for a month and I had been hoping that the doc will finally look into his ear and say fluid is gone.... Sure enough towards the end of the preop checkup the doc finally looked in his ear and said , 'his fluid has really come down' He ordered a timpanogram and it came out with a perfect bell curve. Thus by the grace of god, he escaped the procedure. I recommend parents to consider allergy as a reason for the fluid in ear situations. It doesn't work for all, but a good percent of kids fluid is caused by allergies.

    July 2, 2013 at 00:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Trusslady

      My son also experienced repeated ear infections until he was 18 months old. We took him off all dairy (no milk, yogurt, cheese etc.). In the next six years he experienced one ear infection when the daycare he was in gave him milk. Today my son is over six feet tall, has never had a cavity, nor any broken bones.

      July 2, 2013 at 10:30 | Report abuse |
    • Tina

      My child was dairy-free from six months onward, but it made no difference. By his second bday his adenoids were so huge they were constantly pushing fluid into the middle ear, causing infections, not to mention snoring and poor breathing at night. I think dietary changes will really only work in the most mild cases of inflammation.

      July 2, 2013 at 23:19 | Report abuse |
  9. Todd

    I had tubes in my ears twice as a young child. I remember having to lay with my head on the heating pad all the time, constant ear infections, and a burst ear drum. The constant problems stopped after the second tubes came out but I am left with fairly poor hearing.

    July 2, 2013 at 02:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. xpilotguy

    My dad was a surgeon and a gp, and still living in the mid 70's when this was also a hot issue. Everyone was having tubes put in the kids ears. Pressure was put on the docs to do this operation. I remember the concern my dad had. He said that if parents would just back down on the amounts of dairy products served the kids, few tube operations would be needed. The industry had a big dairy/milk push going on, just like today. It was overwhelming the kids, just like today.

    July 2, 2013 at 03:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Techrat3D

    Got mine in '78, because the fluid was not running off, and almost heard nothing anymore. Problem was that I moved to Germany afterwards, and the doctors there didn't know how to remove them. So after they received the info from the US, they were able to do the procedure. Still have slight problems with my hearing, even though my test scores in sound proofed rooms are high. Background sounds make voices unintelligable to me.

    July 2, 2013 at 05:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. tigermom

    my daughter started to have ear infections at 1 year. medication cleared the problem up but it would return about every 2 months. we visited a specialist and they suggested tubes. i was not sure i wanted to do that to her so told the dr that i was goin to take her to my chiropractor before doing surgery. after 6 weeks we went back to the specialist and her ears were clear and she hasn't had problems since! all the chiro did was a few adjustments and vibration therapy on her neck twice a week. i'm very happy that we tried a different route before puttng her into surgery.

    July 2, 2013 at 09:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • toddflanders

      That seems like pure coincidence to me. Chiropractors have no business treating children for anything, especially infectious diseases. I had a patient that went to a chiropractor everyday for a supposed ear infection. He would massage the child's neck while looking in her ear and tell the parents "I see it getting less red". The problem is the child kept getting sicker. I saw the child on Saturday (funny how the chiropractor wasn't available) and deduced that the child has an intussusception (which is an intestinal obstruction) and the child needed emergency surgery and still lost 2 feet of bowel. Please don't gamble your child's health on these frauds.

      July 2, 2013 at 19:27 | Report abuse |
    • Jess

      @toddflanders- Please don't go around calling all chiropractors frauds. I have back and neck issues, which lead to quite painful headaches, and my chiropractor has really helped me alleviate a lot of pain. I agree with you that the child in your anecdote probably visited a quack that obviously didn't help them, but I've been visiting a chiropractor for various issues since I was in middle school (now in my 20's) and wouldn't change a thing about it. They can help with a lot of cranial issues, you don't know that tigermom's situation was purley coincidence. I agree that parents should certainly be careful about which specialists they take their children to, and make sure that whoever they visit is licensed to work on children, but spinal adjustment can really help people that have few other options.

      July 3, 2013 at 11:32 | Report abuse |
  13. Mark

    When I was a youngster I had all kinds of awful ear infections which led to terrible hearing, terrible balance, delayed speaking, delayed speech recognition, and delayed motor skills. I did rise to the challenge once the infections were alleviated, though. My athleticism was severely delayed, like until middle school and high school since my balance had previously been so bad, but I became and still am a heck of a good runner and was a great athlete in both football and lacrosse. I am to this day a lover of music and enjoy singing and playing instruments. I overcame, but I always respect where I was and the struggles my parents have told me about. My heart goes out to kids going through developmental struggles and I always encourage the parents.

    July 2, 2013 at 09:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Laura

    When I was young I had a lot of ear infections. At 18 months old I had my tonsils removed (1961) and never had an ear infection again. When my daughter was 2 (1988) she had tubes inserted twice. She had her adnoinds removed. She still had ear infections with tubes. I kept asking the ENT if he could removed my daughter's tomsils. "They didn't do that anymore." At the age of 18 my daughter had her tonsils removed. It was a long painful recovery. If they only were removed when she was younger she would of recovered faster. She was the oldest person getting them removed that day out of 7 others.

    July 2, 2013 at 10:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Cat

    My Daughter had 4 ear infections in 4 months, her pedi was concerned about her taking too many antibiotics so he referred us to the ENT, I picked the head of pediatric ENT in a very good med school in our city, they did a hearing test, there was no hearing loss; he just look at the chart, look in her ears and said, she needs tubes, I asked why if there wasn't any hearing loss? his response: 4 ear infections in 6 months by the book is tubes, no matter the hearing loss or lack of it. I said thank you and bye.

    I did my research, went to a holistic pediatrician, they run allergy blood test and my daughter happens to have a lot of allergies, I gave her allergy medication for a while and she never had another ear infection.

    The problem was allergies were keeping the fluid in her ears, a little bit that was constantly getting infected, allergy medicine dried it up.

    Always look for options, don't do surgery as first choice if is not a matter of life or death.

    July 2, 2013 at 11:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • cab

      what kind of allergy medicine ? like zyrtec or something??

      April 23, 2015 at 13:27 | Report abuse |
  16. Jeff

    Be carefull. My daugter has hearing loss from tubes also.

    July 2, 2013 at 11:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. David

    My son had PE tubes implanted at 9 mon. due to recurring infections. When the first set grew out, and the infections recurred, he had a second set implanted. When these tubes subsequently grew out, the original hole tore open and merged with the second. He now has holes encompassing 30-35% of the eardrum in the right ear, and 15-20% in the other.

    Having a ADHD 5 yr old with a slight to moderate hearing loss in both ears presents problems for his teachers and for his mother and I, and we'll have to wait at least another year before attempting tympanoplasty, as his eustachian tubes orient downwards as he grows.

    Make sure you know ALL of the risks before surgery. When his 2nd surgeon admitted that he was second-guessing where to place the tubes, I was livid. Mid-surgery is never the place to have doubts about what you're doing.

    July 2, 2013 at 11:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. sacchrainkiss

    Both my kids had tubes in their ears before they were a year old, but my family has a strong history of immature Eustachian tubes as infants. With both of my girls the infection would clear but the fluid never drained and I wasn't about to allow them to have hearing loss like my sisters, mother and grandmother so I pushed hard for tubes to be put in to clear the fluid. My oldest is five had has only had one ear infection since the surgery, which followed a bad cold, my youngest had the tubes at five months and is now over a year and has had no problems either. Clearly it's not for everyone and parents should do their research and advocate for their children, but for our family it was what was needed to give their Eustachian tubes time to mature.

    July 2, 2013 at 12:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. leonhl

    My daughter had them put in at 9 months of age due to constant infections and fluid build up that increasingly strong antibiotics could not cure. She's 22 now. No regrets. At age 9 months if they are missing out on hearing the speech around them it can delay/impair their speech development and language comprehension.

    July 2, 2013 at 12:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Michele

    When I was 4, my parents were advised I needed tubes in my ears. But they talked to this friend and that friend, and decided I didn't need them. My older sisters also went through frequent ear infections and they were "fine." So they told the peditrician no, and opted for home remedies, antibiotics and hot pads.

    For the next two years, I was in pain at least once every six weeks with an ear infection. I missed most of kindergarden and had to be home schooled. (It was optional in those days.) Little by little, I lost more and more of my hearing. All the while, my parents insisted I was just "in my own imaginary world." Finally, when I was in first grade, a hearing screening by the Red Cross at school showed I wasn't imaginative but severly hard of hearing! Tests on my sisters revealed they were mildly hard of hearing. My parents were given a choice: let me have the surgery or lose custody.

    I can still remember waking up and hearing "Feed the Birds" from Mary Poppins playing on the TV of the child in the semi-private room with me. It was the first song I had heard without tremendous amplification in years. It still makes me cry, although not with joy.

    You see, these ear infections cause nerve damage, and on the left side, these nerves were so damaged they cannot work. My right side suffered 20% damage permanently. Hearing aids are little more than amplifiers. They make the sounds louder and reduce background noise, but they cannot work for the lost nerves. I feel sound as vibrations, but my mind is incapable of translating that vibration into sound except in certain frequencies and pitches. To me "baseball" and "ice cream" sound alike. I cannot tell the difference in my left ear between my alarm clock, my dog barking or my husband calling my name. And I never will regain this.

    So if you are asked to give your kid this surgery, ask whether or not a small risk of infection or pain outweighs the massive loss of one of your child's senses. And then check your child into the medical clinic and have the surgery. To do anything less in child abuse in my opinion.

    July 2, 2013 at 12:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Richard

    My experience goes in a different direction, my son used to get VERY frequent ear infections and the doctors were suggesting tubes and this scared me due to my lack of knowledge. I wanted to try everything else before resorting to surgery and the solution was simple and effective (NO ear infections in about 6 years), but when you hear it it sounds weird, but trust me it works.
    When your child goes to bed you take a few drops of his urine (I know, I know) put about 3-5 drops in his ear and massage it in, leave it in for a few minutes. Do this for about 5 nights in a row. Ear infections gone.

    July 2, 2013 at 16:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • toddflanders

      Wow....I can't think of anything stupider than putting urine in a kid's ear. Just because coincidentally the fluid went away doesn't mean this is a cure or rational treatment. What do you for pink eye, feces??

      July 2, 2013 at 19:32 | Report abuse |
    • Tina

      Why not rubbing alcohol? It dries out any moisture building up and is much more sanitary than urine!!!

      July 2, 2013 at 23:14 | Report abuse |
    • gavins mom

      I know this is an old post but I just came across it and had to reply..lol..not at u but at the ignorance of others..feces for pink eye..really..I hope she didn't try that..but as far as the urine goes..I had a child who had tubes put in his ears due to just a few ear infections and he requiderd speech therapy as well..on the other hand my now 4 yr old had numerous infections which I took him to the doctor for only once..what a waste of time..the rest I cured at home..yes..buy using urine..he hasn't had an ear infection since the age of 1..not sure what the remark about the alcohol was suppose to mean..for all the uneduacated out there..urine is STERILE!!..uh..duh! feces on the other hand..get real lady!!

      March 5, 2014 at 00:21 | Report abuse |
  22. ZatYallsCat

    Tubes weren't available when we were kids - I had terrible earaches, occ. ear infections, etc. We had no air conditoning in school or at home. When I was 12, we moved into a home with central air. Did wonders. As an adult, I had seasonal "ear/sinus infectons" and had the usual antibiotics until I got an EMT who also recommended I purchcase a humidifer. What a lifesaver that was. Try humidity!

    July 2, 2013 at 16:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Richard

    @toddflanders Say what you will but I am not the first person to do it and to go from a painful ear infection just about every few months to NONE in the last 6 years....

    July 2, 2013 at 23:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Tina

    This story seems like another case of reporting the obvious. Tubes are necessary if the ear infections are leading to other problems and aren't readily clearing up. (Duh!) The real key is the fluid backup and/or loss of hearing. Lots of babies in daycare – like my daughter – get routine infections, ranging from ear infections to bronchitis, because they share toys and germs with other kids, but if they always clear up & have no other probs, there's no need for tubes. (This seems like a no-brainer to me.) My son, though, had routine ear infections and constantly had fluid in his middle ears that was causing a loss of conductive hearing. He could hear, but it was like having ear plugs in or being under water. Everything was muddled and muffled. So around his second bday, he got tubes and an adenoidectomy. (Adenoids were so huge, they were pushing the fluid into the middle ear. He also snored like a bear, and babies really aren't supposed to snore.) Within a month, he started being more engaged in games like patty-cake and songs like "Twinkle, Twinkle." It's all because he could hear better.

    July 2, 2013 at 23:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. JC

    My son had several ear infections prior to age 2, but not enough to warrant our clinic's requirement for tubes. By the time the ENT saw him he was 2 and had to meet a new frequency requirement of infections. He always came close, but not quite. He took daily oral antibiotics for months (Gantrisin) that would quell the infection but never alleviate the fluid. Over the years and into elementary school he began to show signs of depression (in a five year old?) and anxiety. After countless appointments with various doctors and therapists we FINALLY saw someone who, while giving the initial exam and questions, looked in his ears and suggested that his chronic infections/fluid might be the cause of his anxiety. We immediately went back to the ENT who agreed that it very well could be an issue. At age *8* my son finally got his tubes and yes, his ears also had to be scraped of the solid infection. He was like a new kid within days. I wish I could have fixed his ears when he was a toddler but I am grateful for the doctor who was willing to look for all possible reasons for his depression/anxiety.

    July 3, 2013 at 02:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Emily McMillen

    I personally got tubes in my ears twice. Once when I was 4 and the other when I was 6. I had gone to 6 months of speech therapy as a kid before my family realized it was because I couldn't hear properly. The only reason I had them twice was because my first set fell out before my Eustachian tubes had developed and started draining fluid in the right direction.

    Once the tubes were in the ear infections stopped and I was able to hear as I walked into the house. My mother always tells stories on how I was surprised that my feet make noise on the ground.

    While I am very glad that I had this procedure done, I wish I had it when I was younger. As an adult, while I do not need a hearing aid, I do have noticeable hearing loss in my left ear. I hope that should my child ever have this issue like I did, I can recognize the issue early and have it taken care of before any permanent damage happens.

    July 3, 2013 at 09:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Patty Evans

    I am 70 years old & was born with hearing problems as a result of constant ear infections. This was before the age of "tubes" . I was wearing hearing aids by age 30 & have had many problems educationally, socially & in my career from
    loss of hearing. Please don't let your child go thru what I did....get the tubes!

    July 3, 2013 at 12:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. erin

    I had tubes as a kid. I had another as an adult. When I was told I needed a second tube as an adult after a flight where my ear wouldn't pop and clear, and my highly esteemed ENT told me I would need yet another tube (and I happened to have no health insurance), I went looking for other solutions. He told me it was infected, like they always did, but I never felt any pain. The Ear Popper device allowed me to clear my clogged ear and I avoided the surgery. This device was well worth the $200 price tag. This is not an ad. Just a very satisfied customer.

    July 4, 2013 at 00:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. J Cline

    My younger son had recurrent severe ear infections, back to back to back. He wasn't saying more than about 7 words at 2 years old. We had tubes put in, and he began saying more words almost immediately. He still needs speech therapy because he couldn't hear well from at least 9 months on. So don't wait too long, and don't be afraid to get the surgery. It works.

    July 17, 2013 at 18:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. erocha1150

    It's interesting that t this piece says that "Children with tubes are able to play in the water, swim, and bathe without wearing ear plugs – something that isn't common knowledge, according to Rosenfeld."

    Our ENT physician's assistant told us that our son would have to wear earplugs indefinitely post-op, because of the risk of infection.

    September 13, 2013 at 11:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. dev

    i have an 8yr old autistic son... and I have been told he needs tubes I have read everyones stories on here and I am not too keen on the idea of possiably having to do this crap over and over again.. so I wanted to share with you what I have found and to the person who talked about the urine it is true....Allium sativum) Fresh or dried pieces of the garlic bulb
    Used for: Common cold, sore throat, ear infections in children, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, fungal or yeast infections, chronic or recurrent infections, low resistance to infection; it is a natural antibiotic and antiviral agent.
    Available In: Raw cloves, dehydrated powder, oil, extract in tablets or capsules, tinctures
    Herb Drug: Garlic thins blood, so large amounts should not be taken if using coumadin or other blood-thinning agents. Regular use of garlic should be avoided prior to surgery.
    Interaction: Remember: A clove of garlic is one segment of the head (not the entire bulb).
    When Buying: Buy fresh, raw garlic. Chopping or mashing garlic releases the herb's full potential as the active component, allicin, forms only on contact with air. Commercial garlic capsules do not preserve the full activity of the fresh bulb and are consequently less effective. To make garlic oil, crush a few cloves into some olive oil. Let the oil sit a few days at room temperature, and then strain. Keep the oil in a container in the refrigerator and warm a bit as needed. If you use powders, tinctures or other commercial garlic products, choose those standardized for allicin content.
    Dosage and Warning: Take two cloves of raw garlic at the first sign of a cold. Mash them or chop finely and mix with food, or cut cloves into chunks and swallow them whole like pills (if you don't chew, the garlic won't stay on your breath); two cloves per day for chronic or recurrent yeast infections or low resistance to infection.
    Child Dosage: Raw garlic is too strong. Use garlic pills instead. For ear infections, a few drops of warm garlic oil in the ear canal

    December 14, 2013 at 09:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Chloe

    Me and My mom are very worried about my 18 month old cousin. Most his age are already speaking, the only words he can say so far are " Mama, Dada, Bubba, and Hot " should we be worried or is he just possibly slower?

    July 12, 2014 at 00:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. kasey

    I have a question. I haven't brought up tubes with my doctor but my son got a ear infection 2 weeks ago and he had to stop the amoxicillin last week turns out hes allergic to it....but the doctor said his infection is cleared up and better. well since then he keeps plugging his ears/ cupping both ears and like squishing his head...if that makes sense to you..anyways I was just reading this forum and ppl are saying that it helps their language development..well my son is 25 months and only says maybe 3 words. and my brother and uncle kept joking about how he cant hear that good ( which me and my husband and other family members thinks he hears fine) but sometimes I do wonder when I have to repeat multiple times once in awhile do you think tubes would help? its kind of irritating that he doesn't talk that much. he has 2 cousins that are the same age but a few months a part and they both are talking up a storm and saying sentences for months now... anyone think that his ears could be the problem of this? please let me know what you guys think 🙂

    August 25, 2014 at 16:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. WENDY

    My son is 4 years old and has had tubes placed in his ears about a year ago due to fluid build up in the middle ear and the tubes fell out about 3 months ago. It worked immediately my son could hear and it was amazing. But now the fluid build up is back and his ENT has recommended that he get bigger tubes placed in his ears that will last for 2 years and also to remove his adenoids & tonsils. I am trying to decide if he really needs to have the tonsils removed, I am terrified of surgery and would hate to have something much worst happen to him if he can avoid it, but on the other hand I want my son's hearing to be regained and I want to make sure I do all that is possible so he can hear clearly.

    March 24, 2015 at 16:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. myheargear1

    Yes there are times when one can avoid surgery and enhance the hearing capability of people who have lost it due to infection or any other problems. Keeping the ears neat and clean away from any kinds of foreign particles entering the ears.

    May 10, 2015 at 11:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Leigh

    My son never had an ear infection. He was incredibly cranky as a baby. I have three older kids and know what babies should be like...my fourth kid took the cake! He cried & screamed all the time. Finally, the doctor said he had some fluid on his ears that was noticed at his 12 month appointment and was still there are his 15 month appointment. We were sent to an ENT. Audiology told us he had a hearing loss and the ENT said he was a candidate for tubes. We were made aware of the risks involved and we chose to have the surgery. After the surgery I had a completely different child. He was happy, he got tons of words, he stopped screaming & crying for no reason. Today we had his 4 week check up and our ENT said the "negative pressure" from fluid in the middle ear can cause extreme pain. I know we are only 4 weeks in, but tubes have made such a big difference for our son. I'm upset with myself for letting him be in pain for so long before a reason was found. Ear tubes...a simple surgery has changed his world. Before all he wanted to do was lay in bed alone. Now (17 months old) he is FINALLY crawling, going from laying to sitting and babbling like crazy. Before tubes he did none of that.

    July 2, 2015 at 11:53 | Report abuse | Reply
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    October 7, 2015 at 00:23 | Report abuse | Reply
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    October 11, 2015 at 13:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Name*Becca

    That is not true about water not getting in your ears with tubes.I am also 100% beyond any shadow of doubt convened tubes do not work for some kids .My son has had 10 sets and hid Ent wants to do another set and I will tell him no because if they don't work what's the point of doing them over and over..

    October 27, 2015 at 23:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. zaenal

    thanks for sarink jual besi wf

    March 28, 2016 at 06:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Charlene Eloranta

    Is it uncommon for a 17 year old to get ear tubes?

    April 6, 2016 at 07:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. John

    Otovert is an much safer and cheaper alternative. I almost got tubes in my kid's ears, but luckily found about Otovert and got it from Amazon (<$20). It cleared his ears very well. His cold infections have gone down considerably (in last 9 months). Also, we try to avoid milk as he seems to get cold right after eating cheese or milk products. Hope this helps someone thinking about tubes. It is awful that 3 specialist doctors never mentioned Otovert and only recommended tubes. It is shameful how medical profession has become so profit oriented.

    September 15, 2016 at 11:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. cabbage2016

    My son (who is 7 now) had constant ear infections when we was smaller. He was on antibiotics a couple of times a month, and used to cry himself to sleep at night because of the pain. The doctors wanted to insert ear tubes.

    After reading about the surgery, I didn't want to put him through it unless there was no other possible solution. After searching online, I found out that some parents had fixed the same problem using the juice of an onion. To cut a long story short, I tried it and after about 2 weeks of using onion juice, my son no longer had problems. In fact, over those two weeks I only used onion juice twice. That was about two years ago. Since then he has not had a single ear infection.

    A lot of parents go through this worry. Surgery is surgery and has it's own dangers, but the side effects of ear tubes can also be devastating (hearing loss due to scar tissue). I really want to get this natural solution out there so more parents can try it before resorting to surgery.

    You can read my experience here:


    If you have any thoughts or suggestions about the article, I'd love to hear them.

    November 8, 2016 at 07:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Dwight

    I am also writing to make you know what a perfect experience our child developed viewing your site. She picked up plenty of issues, not to mention what it's like to possess an excellent teaching mood to have many more smoothly have an understanding of several hard to do matters. You actually surpassed readers' expectations. Thank you for presenting such warm and helpful, dependable, revealing and as well as fun guidance on that topic to Ethel.


    April 2, 2017 at 09:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Katelyn

    Recent research that says adults can get tubes so there's actually no age limit

    September 2, 2017 at 17:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Dr David Greene MD

    Mostly parents are not aware, if there children needs ear tubes or not. Thank you for such valuable information to let them parents know which children are candidate for ear tubes.

    Doctor David Greene

    April 25, 2018 at 05:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Name*mike

    Horribly written article.

    July 28, 2018 at 08:54 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.