“Tube Phobia”: Why Do They Put Tubes in Ears?
One of the procedures that doctors would recommend to you in case your child gets an ear infection is placement of an ear tube (tympanostomy tube in medical terms). As scary as it seems, there is nothing to worry about as ear tube placement is one of the remedies that is indicated in cases of severe ear infection, or if the ear infection seems to be recurrent at a rate more than what is considered the norm for children of their age.
Now, let’s get to the bottom of this tube business. Why Do They Put Tubes in Ears?
To make things easier for us to figure this out, let us imagine that our ears are like funnels. In a funnel, there is a tube that serves to drain the fluid so as to prevent spillage when transferring liquids to a container with a smaller opening. Similarly, the Eustachian tubes inside our ears work in that way. Not only are they present to normalize the pressure inside the ear, they also serve as a drainage for any fluid present inside the middle ear space and prevent accumulation of such.
However, when these Eustachian tubes get swollen due to an infection or injury, or when mucus blocks the passageway due to an existing respiratory infection, fluid accumulates, causing most of the symptoms of an ear infection such as pain and hearing and or balance problems. In severe cases, they become severely block that an artificial drainage has to be made to relieve the pressure. If nothing is to be done with this condition, it could further cause damage, ultimately leading to hearing loss if untreated. That is where the ear tubes come in.
Under general anaesthesia, an otolaryngologist, a doctor specializing in caring for the ears, would have to make a small incision in the child’s ears and insert a small tube in the slit. In doing this, an artificial vent is placed, relieving the pressure by letting the air in and the fluid out, preventing any bacterial growth. In short, the ear tube has served as a temporary Eustachian tube until such time that the latter has regained its normal function.
So, really, there is nothing to be afraid in putting ear tubes on children. It’s relatively safe, plus it ultimately saves the child from experiencing complications of suffering hearing loss. Have them checked as early as possible, and save yourself from worry.