DOES YOUR CHILD HAVE RECURRENT EAR INFECTIONS?
Your doctor will first ask you about the history of this problem.
How many ear infections has your child had and over what time period?
What are the symptoms during an infection? Fever? Pain? Decreased appetite? Waking up at night?
Have you noticed a change in your child’s hearing or your child speaking loudly? How is your child’s speech?
Is your child’s balance affected?
Is your child’s ear infection normally treated with antibiotics? What antibiotics? Do they work? Does the ear fluid clear after the ear infection?
Does your child have any other medical problems? Has your child ever had surgery? Is your child allergic to any medications? Is your child taking any medications at this time? Did anyone else in the family ever have recurrent ear infections?
- Your doctor will then examine your child. They will specifically be looking at the ear for fluid and position of the eardrum.
- Your doctor will likely order a hearing test for your child. An order will be written and you will call to schedule this test in the near future. The audiologist will send your doctor a report of your hearing test. Your doctor will call to notify you of the results and further recommendations.
- Your doctor will discuss appropriate treatment options for your child including close monitoring, medications or surgery including ear tubes and possibly adenoidectomy.
Ear tubes are small plastic grommets which look like spools of thread. During surgery, an incision is made in the ear drum and the tube is placed to keep this hole open. The tube allows fluid to drain out and air to get in the middle ear. The tubes usually stay in the ear drum for 12-18 months. The tubes normally fall out of the ear drum on their own and the ear drum hole closes. After a child has ear tubes, the ears will need to be checked periodically to make sure the tubes are in place and functioning. The tubes can get blocked, fall out to early, stay in too long requiring removal, or leave a hole in ear drum which needs to be repaired. There may be a scar or thickening of the ear drum where the tube had been. This thickening usually does not affect the hearing. Placement of ear tubes is a surgical procedure that is preformed under general anesthesia lasting about 15 minutes. Patients go home the same day with minimal ear pain. A child can return to school and normal activities the following day.
In older children who are having recurrent ear infections or a child is having a second set of tubes placed, an adenoidectomy is also often recommended. An adenoidectomy is a surgery done through the mouth to remove the adenoid tissue in the back of the nose. The adenoids are usually removed if they are enlarged blocking the back of the nose or as the source of bacteria that is re-infecting the nose and ears. Surgery is preformed under general anesthesia, usually lasting less than 30 minutes. Most often patients can go home the same day as the adenoidectomy. Recovery is usually 3 to 5 days, requiring light activity and possibly pain medication.
An x-ray or scope exam may be recommended to evaluate the adenoids. The adenoids are lymphoid tissue in the back of your nose similar to the tonsils. The scope exam can be done during your office visit. Medication is sprayed to decongest and numb the nose. A tiny camera is the used to look inside the nose to inspect the nasal passages, the adenoids and the back of the throat. If an x-ray is ordered, it can usually be done the same day in the radiology department. Once your doctor receives the report and looks at the x-ray they will notify you of the results and further recommendations.
- If surgery is recommended, you will meet with surgery schedulers to pick a date and discuss insurance coverage.
- If observation or medical treatment is recommended, your prescriptions will be sent to your pharmacy and you will schedule a follow up appointment.