Frequent Ear Infections - Tubes?

Thanks, Marielle. We have a nice scented rice bag that we use for pain relief (tummy aches, etc.) and other sensory purposes (weighted input for calming him for bed). We've been heating that for him and putting it either on the ear or around the back of the neck. He calls it "bean bag" and will ask for it when the pain gets bad.
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but has anyone had tubes put in on their kids? What was it like? How did it come to that point for you?
Originally Posted by fuzzbucket
We did with my daughter, who is now 4.

We actually waited longer than normal to get them put in to see if the fluid would drain on it's own during the summer, when infections/colds aren't as frequent. She was about 18 months old when she got them. I wish I could remember how many infections she'd had and in what time frame, but I think that she was right on the border of it being too many in a certain amount of time. We did it more because the fluid that is normally in there just wasn't draining.

So, we saw the ENT, recommended waiting 6 weeks, then checking again. He checked again, and said that now is when they would do the surgery, but I'd asked to wait another 6 weeks. So, we waited another 6 weeks. She didn't ahve any intfections, but like I said, she still had a LOT of fluid behind her ear drums, the right side being worse than the left. We scheduled the surgery. I do remember asking the doctor if this fluid was causing her to have hearing problems, and he said yes...that was a HUGE motivator for me to get the tubes as well.

It only took a few minutes, but honestly, her coming out of the anesthesia was the WORST part of it. They are pretty much inconsolable. Nothing makes them happy, they are fidgety, crying, they want to lay down, they want to be held, etc. We gave her some Tylenol and let her sleep it off, about 8 hours later she was fine.

One tube fell out on it's own in about 9 months, we found it while we were playing outside, it was kind of stuck to her ear. The other one fell out on it's own at some point, but I don't know when. We had her hearing tested about a year ago, and she's fine. She has not had an infection since, but I can tell she still has sinus drainage problems; when she gets a cold, her eyes water, her nose is just nasty, etc.

When they do get a cold while they have tubes in, the tubes allow the fluid to drain out of the ear, so it is kind of gross.

I did notice that it took about 3 months after the surgery but her language really took off. I think it was a great choice for us to get her the tubes.
No problem and one more thought while the 'ol noggin is active. Immune boosters. Off the top of my head some that we use and are very powerfully beneficial:

1. Cod liver oil (omega 3s and a good source of vitamin D) We use Carlson's brand which is pretty reliable with their purity and testing. My kids drink the lemon flavor straight but some people give the little gummis for kids that don't take them well.

2. Probiotics - I think it was cyn that mentioned the amazing power of good gut health. We use the Jarrow brand and I'll usually open a capsule to throw in their cod liver oil (seriously my kids are kind of odd in their enthusiasm to drink vitamins). However, in a bit of yogurt or unsweetened applesauce works too.

3. Vitamin D - specifically vitamin D3. For the kids I use Carlson's D drops and they get wayyy more than the recommended RDA which many doctors are starting to realize is quite low. I'm not going to recommend what to give to your own kids (you know, not giving medical advice and all) but my kids get 2000mg a day (that's one drop) and it comes in a tasteless liquid that is literally one teensy drop. My husband and I drink a larger dose but in gelcaps also from Carlson's. I know you can request your doctor to test for vitamn D levels to get a feel for how well your current levels are doing.

I've found that vitacost has the better overall prices on most of the supplements I order (I typically place an order every two months). From personal experience I would avoid Lucky Vitamin like the plague. Horrible customer service.
We did breastmilk drops in both boys' ears last night and it seemed to help. Harry was about 2 hours away from the earliest we could give more Motrin and he was starting to show signs of pain. So much so that he agreed to having me do it and didn't squirm when I did the drops and rubbed his ear. Then, he drank some breastmilk from the bottle (it didn't touch his ear). Did the same for Nate. It must have felt funny to them, because a few minutes later they were both rubbing at their ears. However, they both perked up and didn't need any pain reliever until bed time.

Also, I think the new antibiotic is helping Harry. We didn't have any crying wake-ups until 5:45 AM, after giving Motrin at 7 PM. A few times I could tell he was uncomfortable, but he was able to stay asleep or sleepy enough to stay in bed and not need more meds.
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Halfway through the new meds, and Harry's symptoms are ramping up again. Had him checked again today and it's 50/50 chance that it might clear up or could flare up again. We are waiting until Tuesday to check again. Next step is injections and then talking to a surgeon.

This has been going on and off since October, with the latest round since New Year's. I'm going crazy from lack of sleep. I feel so bad for him, but *I* can't take much more of this.
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Hi. I don't have kids, but I was a kid with tubes and am presently an adult (29yo) with tubes. Had first set done when I was 3, with 6 1/2 sets, total, the most recent being a T-tube placed in the left ear when I was 20 (still patent) and a different type of semi-permanent tube placed in the right ear last year during a total reconstructive tympanoplasty, which fell out after 6 months. Go figure. Since I've basically spent my entire life having tubes placed, I remember all of it, clearly, from a first hand perspective.

I know I'm new and all, but if you have any specific questions -- procedure, what to expect, what your kid will experience, etc. please feel free to PM me.


Also, not to knock homeopathic alternatives but there is a difference between immunosuppression due to dairy and refined sugar consumption, and -- for wont of a technical term which I cannot recall -- undescended eustachian tubes (the "tubes" that extend from the middle ear to the back of the throat and allow for pressure regulation and drainage). Babies and young children often have eustachian tubes that essentially point up. These typically drop, or realign, as the skull grows, so that the middle ear can drain and pressure can be effectively regulated. If that doesn't happen, then it's going to be difficult-to-impossible to control chronic otitis media via the elimination of dairy and sugar. As far as I know, there isn't really a way to check on eustachian tube formation, but I would encourage parents, if their children have chronic ear infections, to find a reputable otologist and follow their advice. Prolonged and repeated ear infections invariably damage the tympanic membrane, potentially leading to considerably more invasive procedures down the road. Believe me when I say that my mother wishes nothing more than to *never* have to get me through another tympanoplasty, ever again.

Last edited by CurlyToast; 01-27-2010 at 02:17 PM.
Bump! Thought I would keep this conversation going and let you guys know what we're up to.

It was confirmed today that Sandhya has moderate hearing loss in one ear and mild-to-moderate hearing loss in the other. Her eardrums are completely non-responsive. This is the result we were waiting for - basically she can't hear to the point that one would expect language delays both in speech and comprehension. Presumably this is due to the fluid in her ears.

So we see the ENT next week and move forward most likely with tubes. But in the mean time, my expectations of her in terms of language have suddenly completely changed. I can't expect her to be able to speak or understand us verbally until the hearing issue is resolved. So my focus needs to be on keeping communication advancing but without words.

I have tons of information on signing that I've filed away and never used. Guess I need to pull that all out now and give it a go.

Question for Comicfly and others - is there a role for Speech Pathologists to play in her development now that we know about the hearing issue? Or should we sit tight and see what happens with the tubes? We are currently taking the Hanen course, and I think the strategies still apply, but maybe without the emphasis on speech. Is your (or anyone else's) experience that kids who had temporary hearing loss catch up on their own once the issue is resolved?

Of course I'm feeling guilty now that I didn't realize this issue sooner. I really just thought she was small and taking her own time with talking.


Mad Scientist, we had the mild to moderate diagnosis prior to Alexander's tubes. While waiting for tubes, I made sure that I maintained eye contact when speaking to him. That helped a lot. I assume he read my lips or facial expressions. After the tubes were in, his language took off with no outside intervention.

I signed with him from infancy. For some bizarre reason, he started signing right after his tubes were put in. I really think he needed to be able to hear to make all of the communication connections.

I hope it goes smoothly for you. Try to erase the mommy guilt. You are following up on your concerns now and that's what matters.


"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." -- Theodor Seuss Geisel
Mad Scientist, you've had concerns about Sandhya's development in other areas as well, right? Dark Angel's suggestions are right on,but I'd seek an evaluation/ speech therapy anyway. A good speech language pathologist who is experieced with infants and toddlers will be able to tell you if she recommends therapy for your little girl and will also be sensitive to her developmental strengths ad challenges. I'm a little scattered now (as usual), but if I think of anything, I will post, and you can always post or pm me if you have specific or general questions.
Mad Scientist, we had the mild to moderate diagnosis prior to Alexander's tubes. While waiting for tubes, I made sure that I maintained eye contact when speaking to him. That helped a lot. I assume he read my lips or facial expressions. After the tubes were in, his language took off with no outside intervention.
Originally Posted by DarkAngel
Thanks Dark Angel. Your experiences with Xander are very helpful. We've been working on face-to-face interaction and we've started signing today. I'm not sure how long the process to getting tubes is going to take - depending on whether it can be done at our community hospital or if we need to go to Children's. If its going to take a few months then I'm more inclined to seek outside intervention.


Mad Scientist, we had the mild to moderate diagnosis prior to Alexander's tubes. While waiting for tubes, I made sure that I maintained eye contact when speaking to him. That helped a lot. I assume he read my lips or facial expressions. After the tubes were in, his language took off with no outside intervention.
Originally Posted by DarkAngel
Thanks Dark Angel. Your experiences with Xander are very helpful. We've been working on face-to-face interaction and we've started signing today. I'm not sure how long the process to getting tubes is going to take - depending on whether it can be done at our community hospital or if we need to go to Children's. If its going to take a few months then I'm more inclined to seek outside intervention.
Originally Posted by mad scientist
Ah yes. If you have a wait, I definitely recommend seeking outside assistance. We were able to get our tubes within a few weeks so I hope you have similar success.


"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." -- Theodor Seuss Geisel
Ah yes. If you have a wait, I definitely recommend seeking outside assistance. We were able to get our tubes within a few weeks so I hope you have similar success.
Originally Posted by DarkAngel
Oh I hope its this quick - we'll find out at our ENT appointment on Monday. DH just made the off-hand comment to me that his hospital (which is where this ENT is) doesn't typically do general anaesthetic for kids 2 and under, which is what might necessitate a trip to Children's Hospital.


I just took Connor for his developmental screening yesterday, and their test (I think it was tympanometry?) said that he might have fluid behind his eardrums. That surprised me because he hasn't had any ear infections, unless I just didn't realize it. She wasn't sure about the test results because Connor was singing along with the beeping of the machine.
Mad Scientist, you've had concerns about Sandhya's development in other areas as well, right?
Originally Posted by cosmicfly
See, now I just don't know about this, anymore. She's very small, she doesn't walk and she doesn't talk. I thought that all of these issues were related and she was just generally developmentally delayed. But now as we've examined issues closer, it seems like there are different unrelated causes for each of the different delays. The growth issue is most likely due to her allergies and reduced nutrition, but also may just be genetic (we're a small family). The walking issue seems to be due to weak ankles and her tendency to pronate - we've corrected this with orthodics and now she's in the early stages of walking. And now the communication: I've always assumed that she couldn't understand us/didn't listen/wasn't speaking because she wasn't ready to. But this could entirely be due to her hearing issues.

So now I'm scratching my head wondering if maybe she's not actually delayed from a developmental sense: if her ears were fixed and her ankles were stonger would she be a "normal" walking and talking 2 year old?

I talked to our infant development counsellor this morning and she suggested we follow through with the Hanen course (which I'm really enjoying), and some basic signing for the time being and then with those skills in place then seek out some speech therapy. Ideally by that time, her hearing issue will be resolved that and the therapist can aid her in the transition into verbal communication.

I definitely am going to have more questions for you, Cosmicfly, thanks for offering your advice!


Took Harry for a hearing screening today. There was fluid in both of his ears, which we are getting checked for infection (again) on Thursday or Friday. They said he has mild hearing loss. Depending on what his primary care doctor says, it seems to me we are headed down the drainage/tubes route. I can't help but be curious what this will mean for his development. I know he has other issues, but listening will be so much easier to work on if he can hear better!
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Took Harry for a hearing screening today. There was fluid in both of his ears, which we are getting checked for infection (again) on Thursday or Friday. They said he has mild hearing loss. Depending on what his primary care doctor says, it seems to me we are headed down the drainage/tubes route. I can't help but be curious what this will mean for his development. I know he has other issues, but listening will be so much easier to work on if he can hear better!
Originally Posted by fuzzbucket
Oh, I totally know what you mean. Right now it feels like everything is going to change when Sandhya can hear (better). But I have to remind myself that she's also a two-year old and most of them aren't good listeners at the best of times.

Her tubes go in on Monday morning. I'll let you know how it goes if you end up going down the same path. Please think of my baby!


Mad Scientist: I will be thinking of you all! One of the things the audiologist stressed was that age 2 is a terrible time for listening. We still have concerns with Harry's lack of eye contact and his hyperactivity and sensory seeking behavior, but I still think it will/would be easier to work on those if he could hear better.

I have to credit his SLP for pushing on this issue. She said she has rarely recommended this (exploring tubes) for her students, but she feels like Harry is behind a wall. She said (and this is a proud Mama moment!) that he is so bright and creative and social that if we could just get through that wall, he would blossom. At EI playgroup a while ago, she saw him playing in the corner with the wooden blocks. As she watched, she realized he had "built" a xylophone and was playing it. She pointed it out to the other teachers and went to ask him about it and he talked all about it. Until that point he had never done that at home (he does all the time now), he just came up with it on his own. That really got to her and gave her the feeling of "we need to reach this kid". (Not that she didn't feel that before!) He talks so much now, thanks to her, but we know he could do so much more. I feel hopeful that we may be on the right path to help him break out.

Edited to add: Both ears are infected. Again. Seeing the ENT in April. That was the first available appointment. Ugh.
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Last edited by fuzzbucket; 02-25-2010 at 04:03 PM. Reason: Update
Fuzzbucket, does the ENT have a cancellation list? Sometimes you can get in earlier than your appointment if somebody cancels and you can make it that day.


I have not had concerns about Aidan's speech even prior to tubes, but the day we got the surgery, we were sitting on the floor at home afterwards and he activated some really obnoxious battery toy, made a face, and said, "mama, that loud!".

The surgery was a bit scary for me (he had to wear a little gown, that made me sad for some reason) and he cried hard coming off the anesthesia, but it was less than an hour and he calmed down as soon as itr was clear we were leaving the hospital. He hasn't had an ear infection and has not needed any asthma meds at night since the surgery (he had adenoids removed as well). I was a little unsure, but I decided to do it because the constant ear infections were waking him up at night and I was concerned about the abx use. I'm glad I went through with it.
Tubes are in! Woo hoo! The ENT said there was a lot of gunk in there so he definitely expects there to be a big change in her hearing ability.

It all went very smoothly for us. I stayed with her until she was under anaesthetic and we were barely back to the waiting lounge before the ENT called and told us it was all done and she was in recovery. She woke up screaming in recovery and cried for about 10 minutes and then went back to sleep for another 30 minutes or so. Then she woke up totally happy, had some juice, watched some Dora and we were out of the hospital 1 hour after surgery.


Tubes are in! Woo hoo! The ENT said there was a lot of gunk in there so he definitely expects there to be a big change in her hearing ability.

It all went very smoothly for us. I stayed with her until she was under anaesthetic and we were barely back to the waiting lounge before the ENT called and told us it was all done and she was in recovery. She woke up screaming in recovery and cried for about 10 minutes and then went back to sleep for another 30 minutes or so. Then she woke up totally happy, had some juice, watched some Dora and we were out of the hospital 1 hour after surgery.
Originally Posted by mad scientist
Congrats! I am curious to hear how she does. 5 days into the antibiotic here and Harry is much improved. He is a different child when he feels better. More focused, etc. Now, Nate has fluid in both ears, but there's no infection, as of our Sunday morning Dr. visit.
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