My 1-year old gets a double ear infection every time he gets a cold. Our primary recommended an ear nose and throat specialist who will probably recommend tubes. I've heard conflicting things about them. Are they worth it?

asked 10 Jun '10, 12:13

Anne's gravatar image

accept rate: 17%

edited 15 Jun '10, 13:03

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Tammy ♦♦

What were the downsides you've heard about getting tubes?

(14 Jun '10, 05:10) Sabrina

i can't remember any of them specifically, except for the obvious one that your child has to have surgery which isn't fun for anyone...

(15 Jun '10, 16:30) Anne

I just thought I'd let everyone know that the ENT did not recommend tubes right away -- he wants to wait and see how the next cold season goes. My boy passed his hearing test, but the ENT does think we'll be back in the fall...

(17 Jun '10, 14:18) Anne

Like Dee, Mary, and mkcoehoorn I have only heard good things about tubes helping to restore hearing thus preventing language delays, and reducing chronic ear infections.

Here is an article written by a pediatrician outlining the pros and cons of ear tubes.

Pros/benefits listed are:

◦Reduces (but does not eliminate) the risk of recurring ear infection
◦If hearing was affected by chronic fluid in the ear, it can return hearing to normal
◦Removing ear fluid can restore normal speech development
◦Improving balance (since the inner ear is responsible for balance, chronic fluid or infections can affect that)
◦Preventing fluid from becoming thick and causing more permanent damage in the middle or inner ear

Cons/risks listed are:

◦After tubes are placed some children still will have ear infections
◦Tubes sometime fall out too quickly and may have to be replaced
◦Tubes rarely can fall backward into the middle ear space and need to be surgically removed
◦Tubes staying in too long (especially 3yr or more) – these may need to be removed by your ENT
◦Tubes sometimes form scars on the eardrums or form a persistent hole – it is possible that these changes could result in a small hearing loss
◦Rarely children may have complications from anesthesia

She also lists some preventative measures to help lower the risk of fluid building up in the middle ear:

◦Never have children lying flat while drinking their bottles as this may lead to milk backing up into the middle ear space
◦Do not smoke around children
◦Control any allergies that exist as these may lead to more ear infections
◦Watch for persistent snoring. This may be a sign of large adenoids which may lead to chronic congestion and ear infections


answered 15 Jun '10, 12:50

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Tammy ♦♦
accept rate: 18%

Thanks, this is really helpful as my daughter is about to have this procedure done! Always enjoy your very thorough answers!

(03 Jan '11, 21:35) JustinP8

I got my daughter tubes when she was about 10 month old they were the best thing I ever Did. Her speech tripled and she started walking very soon after. The doctor said her balance was off because of the fluid in her ears so that slowed the walking and the speech because to her she was hearing us all through water so she had no idea what we were saying. So she could not mimic it to learn to speak.


answered 11 Jun '10, 01:57

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How many ear infections had your daughter had at that point?

(11 Jun '10, 16:14) Anne

she had had 8 or nine by this point if not more it seemed like every time her nose started to run We were at the Dr office for an ear infection.

(12 Jun '10, 01:07) Mary

I wish ear tubes had been available to me as a baby. Because I didn't, my ear infections left me tone deaf - in a very musical family (my dad taught music, my mom sang at weddings, my brother was All-State for four years). According to my parents I was at one point almost completely deaf. I don't know the downsides to having tubes, I've never heard anyone talk about them. But I have experienced what can happen if you have a lot of ear infections and you don't get tubes.


answered 10 Jun '10, 16:52

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accept rate: 8%

This is very, very useful, thanks! I'm sorry to hear your ear infections had such extreme consequences. :(

(10 Jun '10, 18:36) Anne

If my family had been less musically inclined, it probably wouldn't have been a big deal. But dealing with it has taught me a lot and prepared me for some challenges with my own children.

(10 Jun '10, 23:43) mkcoehoorn

My son got tubes when he was 2 years old. He has never had an ear infection since and he is now 7. They didn't last very long, but I guess it was long enough for his tubes to grow bigger.


answered 12 Jun '10, 12:18

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accept rate: 33%

My brother had tubes repeatedly from about 10 years old through his teens, I think three or four times. He is now fairly deaf in one ear and the other isn't brilliant, because of the scar tissue left. He is due to have an operation soon to remove some of that scar tissue. He's 35 and spent his teens, twenties and early thirties not really being able to hear properly. I was under the impression that tubes were no longer used quite so readily as they were, because of the scar tissue problems. Perhaps the procedure is better these days?

Is there nothing else you could do to help him avoid the ear infections? The tubes only reduce the risk of recurring infections - they are mostly used if fluid build up behind the ear drum is causing difficulties.


answered 17 Jun '10, 19:11

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Meg Stephenson
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Asked: 10 Jun '10, 12:13

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Last updated: 17 Jun '10, 19:11