Our pediatrician is recommending ear tube surgery for our 9-month-old daughter, who has battled continuous ear infections. What can we do to make the experience as easy as possible for our baby and for us?
A: First, you should know that for most children who have suffered with chronic ear infections—like your daughter—the pain from those infections often outweighs any discomfort from the surgery, and ear tube surgery usually immediately resolves any hearing loss caused by fluid in the middle ear. While anesthesia is used, the procedure frequently takes a only few minutes to complete. That should all be comforting news!
Still, there are some steps to keep in mind following surgery.
Most likely, after discharge from the hospital, your baby will be sleepy and a bit irritable the rest of the day. She also may experience some nausea from the anesthetic, but most children will bounce back and resume normal activities within hours.
As a mainstay of postsurgery treatment, doctors will typically prescribe an antibiotic ear drop for parents to administer to their child at home. You would give these ear drops to your child at home up to three times a day for three or more days following surgery, according to your practitioner’s instructions. As you might imagine, most babies and children don’t like being given ear drops, and challenges with administering drops can ultimately result in children not getting the medicine they need.
This has been an ongoing struggle, and until recently, there was no alternative to having parents administer the drops for several days at home. But we now have another option for children 6 months or older that allows the doctor to place a single dose into each ear during ear tube surgery. You might want to check with your doctor to see if this is an option for your child.
—Franklyn R. Gergits, DO, FAOCO, founding president of Northeast Ear, Nose and Throat Associates in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, and Otonomy consultant