Postoperative Care After Ear Tubes Placement
Postoperative care after ear tubes will begin immediately following your child’s myringotomy (ear tubes placement procedure), as most children who get ear tubes are able to return home on the same day the procedure is performed by their ENT doctor. The general anesthesia used during the placement of ear tubes typically wears off within 30-60 minutes, and you can take your child home shortly afterward. The myringotomy itself is a short surgical procedure which can usually be completed within 15-20 minutes, so most patients are only at the hospital or surgery center for a total of 4-5 hours.
What to Expect After Ear Tubes Placement
Pain: Most patients experience little to no pain after ear tubes placement, but if your child does have some discomfort, acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil) should readily relieve the pain. If pain persists, your child’s ENT doctor may prescribe a pain medication.
Fluid leakage: Some fluid leakage from the ears is to be expected for a few days after a myringotomy. The fluid may be blood-tinged or appear brown or gray with a slight smell. This is normal after ear tube placement. Contact your pediatric ENT if the fluid becomes thick and/or green or has a strong odor.
Antibiotic ear drops: Your ENT doctor may prescribe antibiotic ear drops to be used for several days after surgery. These ear drops help prevent the ear tubes from becoming clogged with blood, prevent infection, and treat any underlying infection that might be present. You will be given detailed instructions on how to administer the ear drops before you take your child home. If a cotton ball has been placed in the ear canal after surgery, you will be instructed on how often to replace it and when to remove it, as well.
Resuming activity: Your child can resume normal activity after returning home from ear tube placement. Most patients are able to return to school or daycare the day after surgery.
Ear pulling: It is normal for infants to pull at their ears after a myringotomy. There is no cause for concern if this occurs for a few days.
Cleaning the ears: Use a damp cloth to clean any fluid leakage from your child’s outer ear. Do not put anything (such as a cotton swab) into the ear, as these can cause damage to the eardrum.
Water exposure/swimming: Your child can bathe or shower normally after ear tube placement, however, you may use earplugs to avoid soapy water entering the ears as an extra precaution to prevent infection. If swimming in untreated water, such as a lake, or going deeper than 3 feet under water, earplugs should be used. A neoprene hand band, which can be purchased at most drugstores, can also be used to keep the earplugs in place. Custom-made ear molds are available at the Ft. Worth ENT Hearing Aid Center. Do not use alcohol in the ear or any product designed for “swimmers ear” while ear tubes are in place.
Flying: There are no restrictions on flying after ear tubes placement. The tubes should prevent any typical problems caused by pressure changes.
When to Call Your Child’s ENT After Ear Tubes Placement
If you have any questions or concerns after your child receives ear tubes, please do not hesitate to contact the pediatric ENT specialists at Ft. Worth ENT.
Call our office if your child experiences any of these symptoms:
• Fluid leakage for more than a week after surgery or returning leakage after it has stopped
• Drainage from ear becomes greenish or pus-like with a strong odor
• Fever over 101° F
• Increased pain or soreness in the ears
• Persistent hearing or balance problems
If you feel like your child’s symptoms constitute an emergency, do not hesitate to take your child to the nearest emergency room.
Follow-up After Ear Tube Placement
Most myringotomy patients experience no complications and will have their first follow-up appointment 2-3 weeks after surgery. At this time, the tubes will be checked and, if necessary, a hearing test may be performed. Continued follow-up appointments are typically scheduled every 4-6 months until the ear tubes naturally fall out on their own. In some cases, the ear tubes may need to be removed by your child’s ENT doctor.
If your child is experiencing chronic otitis media (ear infections), please contact the children’s ENT doctors at Ft. Worth ENT to see if ear tubes can help relieve your child’s symptoms. Call 817-332-8848 to learn more now!