Q&A: What Happens When Your Child Gets Ear Tubes

When your child has multiple ear infections that require antibiotics, sometimes doctors recommend putting in tubes in. The tubes allow any fluids that build up to drain, which reduces the pressure and pain the child experiences.

My sister has a lot of experience with this, so I decided to ask her a few questions about it. 

How many times has your son had ear tubes?


Why did you need them three times?

Over time the tubes come out and if your child is still having ear infections he or she might need additional sets of tubes. If too much pressure builds in the ear from an infection, the eardrum can burst causing significant pain and possible hearing damage.

 What is the process like? Was he put to sleep? Are you with him during the procedure?

He was put under with just a mask when he had the tubes put in. You stay with them in the prep area and then they take them alone into the O.R., which sucks.

Did it help immediately?

Yes! It takes most (not all) of the ear pain away but he can still get ear infections. The ear infections he has had post-surgery still involved leakage and some pain, but because of the tubes, the eardrum hasn’t ruptured.

How long does it take to recover?

They are fine by the end of the day. Our doctor instructed us to give our son Tylenol afterwards.

What have you learned from the process you wish you had known?

It’s over extremely quickly. It’s completely worth it even though it’s scary. It’s very hard to watch someone carry your toddler down the hall to have surgery (I cried every time). It’s also very common and an easy surgery for the doctor to perform. If you focus on that, it isn’t so scary. The anesthesia was the scariest part for us, but we have done it three times now and everything went smoothly each time.

Amy is the mother of two (and my little sister) who lives with her family near Nashville, Tennessee. Thanks, Amy!

Looking for more information, this New York Times article has a very thorough Q&A with a doctor.

Have your kids had tubes? How was your experience? Do you have any tips to add for other moms?

Disclaimer: Advice given on this blog is not intended to replace the opinion of your personal physician, your child’s pediatrician or your own best judgment.

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