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. Content Marketing Boutique

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


    May 30, 2021 at 06:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. AC Repair Fayetteville NC

    Found your post interesting to read. I cant wait to see your post soon. Good Luck for the upcoming update.This article is really very interesting and effective. Flooring Installers of Pittsburgh, 1933 Crafton Blvd #5, Pittsburgh, PA 15205, (412) 415-7629


    May 30, 2021 at 07:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. AC Repair in Miami, FL

    Found your post interesting to read. I cant wait to see your post soon. Good Luck for the upcoming update.This article is really very interesting and effective. Flooring Installers of Pittsburgh, 1933 Crafton Blvd #5, Pittsburgh, PA 15205, (412) 415-7629


    May 30, 2021 at 07:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Ellicott City air conditioning services

    Commenting on a blog is an art. Good comments create relations. You’re doing great work. Keep it up. Flooring Installers of Pittsburgh, 1933 Crafton Blvd #5, Pittsburgh, PA 15205, (412) 415-7629


    May 30, 2021 at 08:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Truck Wrap Shop Near Me


    May 30, 2021 at 11:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Truck Body Shop

    An interesting discussion is worth comment. I believe that you need to write more about this topic, it might not be a taboo matter but typically people do not talk about such topics. To the next! Best wishes!!


    May 30, 2021 at 12:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Tow Truck Repair Shop Near Me


    May 30, 2021 at 14:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Sprinter Van Technician

    When I initially left a comment I appear to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on every time a comment is added I receive four emails with the exact same comment. Is there a means you are able to remove me from that service? Thanks a lot!


    May 30, 2021 at 21:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Best RV Repair Near Me

    You are so awesome! I do not believe I have read through anything like that before. So nice to discover somebody with genuine thoughts on this subject matter. Really.. thanks for starting this up. This website is something that's needed on the internet, someone with some originality!


    May 30, 2021 at 23:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. RV Window Repair Near Me

    Spot on with this write-up, I truly believe this site needs far more attention. I’ll probably be back again to see more, thanks for the information!


    May 31, 2021 at 01:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Meredith Miyoshi

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


    May 31, 2021 at 05:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Dodge Sprinter Auto Repair

    An intriguing discussion is definitely worth comment. I do think that you ought to write more on this issue, it may not be a taboo matter but usually folks don't discuss such subjects. To the next! All the best!!


    May 31, 2021 at 07:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. RV Fiberglass Repair Near Me


    May 31, 2021 at 08:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Running Board Repair Dodge Sprinter


    May 31, 2021 at 15:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. E 150 Van Power Window Repair


    May 31, 2021 at 16:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Van Sliding Door Repair

    A motivating discussion is worth comment. I think that you should publish more about this issue, it may not be a taboo matter but generally people don't talk about such subjects. To the next! Best wishes!!


    May 31, 2021 at 19:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. RV Repair Shop Near Me

    This site definitely has all the information I needed concerning this subject and didn’t know who to ask.


    May 31, 2021 at 19:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. rv repair orange county california

    Howdy! This post couldn’t be written any better! Going through this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He always kept talking about this. I am going to send this post to him. Pretty sure he will have a very good read. I appreciate you for sharing!


    June 1, 2021 at 10:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Conversion Shop

    Good article. I will be going through a few of these issues as well..


    June 1, 2021 at 11:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Sindy Knightstep

    I blog frequently and I really thank you for your content. Your article has truly peaked my interest. I am going to bookmark your site and keep checking for new information about once per week. I subscribed to your Feed as well.


    June 1, 2021 at 13:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Pat Zingg

    Having read this I thought it was very informative. I appreciate you finding the time and energy to put this content together. I once again find myself spending a lot of time both reading and commenting. But so what, it was still worthwhile!


    June 1, 2021 at 21:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Bud Ghantt

    Can I just say what a relief to uncover a person that genuinely knows what they're talking about online. You certainly understand how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More and more people ought to read this and understand this side of your story. I was surprised that you are not more popular given that you certainly have the gift.


    June 1, 2021 at 23:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Cargo Van Repair Shop


    June 2, 2021 at 00:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Radon

    nice information for a new blogger. it is really helpful


    June 2, 2021 at 01:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Radon

    carry on, dont stop


    June 2, 2021 at 01:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Radon

    very interesting , good job and thanks for sharing such a good blog.


    June 2, 2021 at 02:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Luxury Van Repair

    It’s difficult to find educated people on this subject, however, you sound like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks


    June 2, 2021 at 02:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Priscila Polverari


    June 2, 2021 at 05:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Britta Lombera

    A motivating discussion is definitely worth comment. There's no doubt that that you should publish more on this subject, it may not be a taboo matter but typically folks don't discuss such topics. To the next! All the best!!


    June 2, 2021 at 06:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Restoration Shop

    Pretty! This has been an extremely wonderful article. Thanks for supplying this information.


    June 2, 2021 at 11:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. repair blinds near me

    Good day! I could have sworn I’ve visited this site before but after browsing through many of the posts I realized it’s new to me. Regardless, I’m definitely delighted I came across it and I’ll be bookmarking it and checking back often!


    June 2, 2021 at 12:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. aftermarket installation shops near me

    You've made some good points there. I looked on the net for more info about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this web site.


    June 2, 2021 at 15:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. https://shiatsu-web.com

    Best view i have ever seen !


    June 2, 2021 at 21:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Digital Marketing Specialist


    June 2, 2021 at 21:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Toney Belfiglio

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


    June 2, 2021 at 23:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Repair Shop

    Great information. Lucky me I came across your website by accident (stumbleupon). I have book marked it for later!


    June 3, 2021 at 00:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Digital Marketing Specialists

    That is a good tip especially to those new to the blogosphere. Brief but very precise information… Appreciate your sharing this one. A must read article!


    June 3, 2021 at 03:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. RV Bay Doors Orange County


    June 3, 2021 at 04:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. trailer painting near me


    June 3, 2021 at 09:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Content Marketing Agencies


    June 3, 2021 at 10:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. SEO Marketing Business


    June 3, 2021 at 15:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Repair Sprinter Seat

    I blog frequently and I seriously thank you for your information. The article has really peaked my interest. I'm going to take a note of your blog and keep checking for new details about once a week. I subscribed to your Feed as well.


    June 3, 2021 at 16:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Authorized Dodge Sprinter Repair


    June 3, 2021 at 17:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. furniture repair in orange county ca


    June 3, 2021 at 17:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. best rv upgrades


    June 3, 2021 at 17:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Social Media Marketing Agencies

    Aw, this was a very nice post. Taking the time and actual effort to create a top notch articleÖ but what can I sayÖ I put things off a whole lot and don't manage to get anything done.


    June 3, 2021 at 22:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. 2004 Mercedes Sprinter Engine Block Repair

    Howdy! This post could not be written any better! Reading through this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He always kept preaching about this. I am going to forward this information to him. Pretty sure he will have a great read. Thank you for sharing!


    June 4, 2021 at 00:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. rv park orange county ca


    June 4, 2021 at 02:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Digital Marketing Specialist


    June 4, 2021 at 02:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Chevy Van Repair


    June 4, 2021 at 02:28 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24

Leave a Reply to Micheal Smith


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.