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Health Tip: Understanding Ear Tube Surgery

Why and how it's done

(HealthDay News) -- An ear tube is surgically implanted in a child's ear to help drain fluid that builds up behind the eardrum, says the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

When fluid builds up in the ear and stays there for a long period, it can cause hearing loss. Ear tubes may also be inserted when a child has frequent ear infections that can't be prevented with less invasive treatments.

Ear tube insertion is performed under general anesthesia. The surgeon first makes a small incision in the eardrum. The fluid is suctioned out, then a small tube is inserted in the eardrum. Now, air can flow through the ear and fluid can drain from the middle ear, the agency says.

Ear tube surgery is usually an outpatient procedure, so the child can go home the same day. The following day, most children can resume normal activities. The surgical incision usually heals on its own, without stitches. The ear tube commonly falls out after about 14 months.

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