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 (1,011 Responses)
  1. Repair Van

    I like it when folks come together and share thoughts. Great site, keep it up!


    May 16, 2021 at 22:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. 3.0 Sprinter Vacuum Pump Repair


    May 16, 2021 at 23:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Mercedes Sprinter Refrigerator Repair

    I like reading a post that can make men and women think. Also, many thanks for allowing me to comment!


    May 16, 2021 at 23:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Sprinter Van Repair Shop Near Me


    May 17, 2021 at 00:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. 2003 Sprinter Ac Repair


    May 17, 2021 at 01:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Sprinter Van Roof Repair

    Good day! I simply wish to give you a big thumbs up for the excellent information you have right here on this post. I will be coming back to your website for more soon.


    May 17, 2021 at 02:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Maserati Ghibli Sq4 Reviews

    Good day! I just wish to offer you a huge thumbs up for the great information you've got right here on this post. I will be coming back to your blog for more soon.


    May 17, 2021 at 03:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Maserati Suv Price 2017


    May 17, 2021 at 04:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Sprinter Repair Shops Near Me

    Oh my goodness! Incredible article dude! Thanks, However I am encountering difficulties with your RSS. I don’t understand the reason why I am unable to join it. Is there anybody else having similar RSS problems? Anyone that knows the solution will you kindly respond? Thanks!!


    May 17, 2021 at 05:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Mercedes Sprinter 3.0 Intake Runner Repair

    Your style is so unique in comparison to other folks I've read stuff from. Thanks for posting when you've got the opportunity, Guess I will just bookmark this blog.


    May 17, 2021 at 06:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Bert Krzal

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is essentially a online game where you can do anything you want. Second life is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you would like to see more you can see these second life authors and blogs


    May 17, 2021 at 08:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. 2006 Mercades Sprinter 2500 Turbo Actuator Repair

    Hi, There's no doubt that your blog could possibly be having web browser compatibility problems. When I look at your web site in Safari, it looks fine however, when opening in IE, it has some overlapping issues. I simply wanted to give you a quick heads up! Besides that, fantastic site!


    May 17, 2021 at 09:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Mercedes Sprinter Authorized Repair Center


    May 17, 2021 at 11:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Sprinter Door Repair Panel


    May 17, 2021 at 11:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Mercedes Sprinter Diesel Repair Near Me

    An outstanding share! I've just forwarded this onto a colleague who had been doing a little research on this. And he in fact bought me lunch simply because I discovered it for him... lol. So allow me to reword this.... Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending the time to discuss this topic here on your website.


    May 17, 2021 at 12:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. RV Batteries California

    Your style is very unique compared to other folks I've read stuff from. Thank you for posting when you've got the opportunity, Guess I will just book mark this web site.


    May 17, 2021 at 13:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. RV Frame Los Angeles


    May 17, 2021 at 14:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. RV TV California


    May 17, 2021 at 16:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. 2006 Maserati Gransport

    Hi, I do think this is an excellent website. I stumbledupon it 😉 I may revisit yet again since I bookmarked it. Money and freedom is the best way to change, may you be rich and continue to guide others.


    May 17, 2021 at 16:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. RV Awning Near Me

    Pretty! This has been a really wonderful article. Thanks for providing this info.


    May 17, 2021 at 17:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Maserati Red

    I wanted to thank you for this very good read!! I certainly loved every little bit of it. I've got you book marked to look at new things you post…


    May 17, 2021 at 17:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Ayahuasca For Sale

    Today, I went to the beachfront with my kids.
    I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and
    said "You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear." She placed the shell
    to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear.
    She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is totally off topic but I had to tell someone!

    May 17, 2021 at 18:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Maserati On Sale Near Me


    May 17, 2021 at 20:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. rv body repair parts


    May 18, 2021 at 00:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Ike Besherse

    I don't know about you people but I infatuated with airplanes. I had a friend in highschool that loves airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff I don't know about you guys but I love airplanes. I had a friend in highschool that loved airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff https://www.airlinereporter.com/2009/10/northwest-flight-188-missing-of-the-airport-caused-by-laptops-not-sleeping/


    May 18, 2021 at 03:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. wall paint shops near me


    May 18, 2021 at 07:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. buy bonus

    Bonus buy slots are online slots where you can pay a premium in exchange for instant access to their main bonus feature; usually the free spins round.
    Also known as "feature buy"

    May 18, 2021 at 12:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. goal coach near me

    I used to be able to find good advice from your articles.


    May 18, 2021 at 17:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. air conditioning repair near


    May 18, 2021 at 18:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Assisted Living Palm Desert

    Aw, this was a very good post. Spending some time and actual effort to produce a very good article… but what can I say… I put things off a lot and never seem to get nearly anything done.


    May 18, 2021 at 18:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Best Dental Clinics


    May 18, 2021 at 18:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. air conditioning contractor near me

    I absolutely love your blog.. Pleasant colors & theme. Did you create this amazing site yourself? Please reply back as I’m attempting to create my own personal website and would love to know where you got this from or just what the theme is called. Cheers!


    May 18, 2021 at 19:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. confidence coach near me


    May 18, 2021 at 19:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Maserati Near Santa Clara

    This is a topic that is near to my heart... Best wishes! Exactly where are your contact details though?


    May 18, 2021 at 22:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. energy pills

    I blog quite often and I really thank you for your content. This article has truly peaked my interest. I will take a note of your website and keep checking for new details about once per week. I opted in for your Feed as well.


    May 18, 2021 at 23:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Forklift Service Los Angeles

    Aw, this was an exceptionally good post. Spending some time and actual effort to generate a good article… but what can I say… I hesitate a whole lot and never seem to get nearly anything done.


    May 18, 2021 at 23:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Content Marketing Boutique


    May 18, 2021 at 23:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Maserati Price 2019


    May 18, 2021 at 23:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Internet Marketing Quote


    May 19, 2021 at 00:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Video Marketing Companies

    Everything is very open with a precise explanation of the challenges. It was really informative. Your website is very useful. Thanks for sharing!


    May 19, 2021 at 01:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. casinoae888.com

    Nice post. I learn something totally new and challenging on websites I stumbleupon on a daily
    basis. It's always interesting to read through articles from other authors and
    use a little something from other websites.

    May 19, 2021 at 02:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. https://casinoae888.com/ly-do-ban-luon-chon-nha-cai-138bet/

    I loved as much as you'll receive carried out right here.
    The sketch is attractive, your authored material stylish.
    nonetheless, you command get bought an nervousness over that you wish
    be delivering the following. unwell unquestionably come further formerly again as exactly
    the same nearly very often inside case you shield this increase.

    May 19, 2021 at 02:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. online bahis oyna

    575433 529543hey there i stumbled upon your site looking around the web. I wanted to tell you I enjoy the look of points around here. Keep it up will bookmark for certain. 328085

    May 19, 2021 at 04:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Harlan Justine

    I don't know about you guys but I love airplanes. I have a friend in highschool that loves airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff I don't know about you guys but I love airplanes. I had a friend in highschool that loved airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff https://www.airlinereporter.com/2009/06/interview-with-the-airline-blog-today-is-marks-last-day-on-airtran/


    May 19, 2021 at 04:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Micheal Smith

    Great post! I like to learn, and I have learned something! Thanks you very much keep the good work!


    May 19, 2021 at 07:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Trinidad Moscowitz

    Greetings! Very helpful advice within this post! It is the little changes that will make the most important changes. Thanks for sharing!


    May 19, 2021 at 08:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Hong Kong luxury

    Whats up very cool blog!! Guy .. Beautiful .. Superb ..

    I'll bookmark your web site and take the feeds additionally?

    I am happy to seek out a lot of helpful info right
    here within the publish, we'd like work out more techniques on this regard,
    thank you for sharing. . . . . .

    May 19, 2021 at 09:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Printing Company Near Me

    Very good information. Lucky me I recently found your website by accident (stumbleupon). I've saved as a favorite for later!


    May 19, 2021 at 10:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Mig Welders Near Me


    May 19, 2021 at 10:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. good presents for mothers

    You need to take part in a contest for one of the most useful sites on the internet. I'm going to highly recommend this web site!


    May 19, 2021 at 12:17 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

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.