Health Tip: Tubes May Help Frequent Ear Infections

A surgical alternative if other options fail

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(HealthDay News) -- Ear infections are common in young children, and are often easily treated with antibiotics or may even clear up on their own.

But if your child has had multiple ear infections in a short period of time that never seem to clear, he may need ear tubes to help drain fluid from his ears and prevent infection, the Nemours Foundation says.

Children who attend group child-care centers, are around people who smoke, and who take bottles to bed are more prone to ear infections. Most often, they occur between ages 6 months and 2 years.

Symptoms of an ear infection can include fever, fussiness or irritability, and fluid leaking from the ears. If your child's ear infections are causing trouble hearing or slowing speech development, your doctor may recommend ear tube surgery.

Tympanostomy, the medical name for the procedure, involves placing a small tube in the child's ear -- usually in both ears -- to help ventilate the area and prevent future infections. The tubes, which also equalize pressure in the middle ear, are typically removed within 6-18 months after surgery.

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