Help Us Decide! Ear Tubes

Honey Bear (18 months) has chronic ear infections. He's had 6 (maybe 7) in the last 11 months.

My other two kids had ear infections too, along the lines of one or two per year. In a bad year, maybe three. I never had my other babies in the doctors office as often as The Bear has been. We take him to the doctor before leaving on a trip just to have his ears checked, so we can take his antibiotic with us if he needs it.

The pediatrician said it is time to consider tubes and last week we saw the Ear Tube Doctor. I know tubes are not all that big a deal. But, Bear has no problems with balance, hearing, or speech. When his ears get infected, his appetite falls off a bit (a HUGE sign something is wrong with Bear), he's a bit cranky, and his nose runs. But he sleeps just fine and is generally good.

The Ear Tube Doctor said it's up to us to decide, since he's not suffering any damage, just basically the inconvenience of how often they recur. He'll outgrow this on his own (and that could happen next month or next year).

I know a lot of you have probably done ear tubes. Help me! If his speech or balance were being affected, clearly the Ear Tube Doctor makes some money here. But he's actually fine, they just come back so frequently. The thought of any type of anesthesia when not strictly necessary makes us nervous.

Please give us a little insight here. Would you recommend tubes, or let him outgrow this?

(Additional note: the doctor said there is no concern about him cycling through a bunch of different antibiotics because the dosages are not enough for him to become immune to them. And his symptoms disappear very quickly - within two doses of the medicine - so it's very far from being days of misery for the little guy. If it were, obviously we'd do the tubes.)


Anonymous said...

Get. The. Tubes.

I'm tellin' ya. Like a miracle they are.

Seriously, the whole thing was over before I got a chance to work up a good nervous pacing around the room.

Unknown said...

The only danger to the frequent ear infections is the possibility of mastoiditis - an infection of the middle ear. And given that you watch him so closely, that doesn't really seem to be an issue. Some kids 'hide' their symptoms until the infection is well advanced, and for them constant infections can be a REAL problem.

If it was me, I'd say leave him alone - he'll outgrow it soon enough. And he will. I did. So have all three of my sons.

BlondeMomBlog (Jamie) said...

Miss C outgrew her ear infections by 18 months. Miss A did not. We did tubes when she was about 18 months old. She's only had one since then and she's 3!

I say do it. She was literally up and running that same afternoon.

BlondeMomBlog (Jamie) said...

p.s. one more thing our pediatrician said (and he is very conservative with recommending tubes) was that if Miss A continued to have ear infections through summer that we'd go that route...and she did

Carrie said...

I got them when I was 11, after years and years of ear infections. Never had another problem. Do it now, before it drags on any longer.

Sarahviz said...

I'd say wait and see if he outgrows it. Baby had lots of ear infections before his first year, and then?
He turned one and only had about 2 more. Ever.

Anonymous said...

The doctor specifically told my parents not to have them put in becuase there wasn't a problem with balance and language so they didn't have it done. I never out grew it though and they didn't think to get a second opinion.

Then when I was 16 another doctor looked in my ears and was aghast that they hadn't been done in the first place. Apparently there is some damage done now.

I still get ear infections at least 2x yearly at 28 years old.

If it's reocurring that often is the infection really going away or just getting "better" and waiting to come back? Just curious.

Meredith said...

Get them immediately!

Elise just got hers, Andrew had them put in at 11 months.

We didn't *think* she had any problems with hearing or speech delay...yet within a week her spoken vocabulary had DOUBLED and she stopped waking up at night completely.

See, it's not the acute infections that should worry you, but the possibility of a low level of fluid swishing around in their ears between infections.

To me, 15-minutes in surgery and a physical solution is far better than the constant worry and antibiotics.

Wecare4much said...


We did the tube route with our oldest DS and it worked for a time. However,when they wanted to do the tube route the 2nd time we decided to do some research. We found chiropractic care and reducing mucousy dairy (switching to goat's milk over cow milk) did wonders for him as he never had another EI and did not require the 2nd round of tubes. Our next 3 were under chiro care from birth and have never had a single ear infection. Just thought I'd throw out a different way that worked well for our family.

Anonymous said...

My middle son had chronic ear infections and putting tubes in was brought up to us at about the same age. I truly believe we have a mommy instinct about these things -- go with yours. Mine was to wait it out till he turned 2 and sure enough he outgrew them.

Barbara said...

I've read your blog for a while now, but haven't commented. Every situation is different... but, I had chronic ear infections as a child, the doctor recommended no tubes and to let me grow out of it.

However, due to the frequent ear infections I now have scarring in my ears, to the point that doctors often state that they are amazed I can hear just fine. I even had 1 doctor a couple of years ago call in three others to look at the amount of scarring and to exclaim "and can you believe it, she hears fine." That was fun.

I can hear fine, yes, but even slight changes in pressure affect me, and major changes cause me extreme pain, because my ears don't pop as easily as they should due to scarring. And with as amazed as doctors often are, I'm guessing that scarring from frequent ear infections usually does a lot more damage.

Also, I can't handle having water in my ears at all, it really bothers them.

Go with the tubes...

Anglophile Football Fanatic said...

I say get them. He'll be happier to not get chronically sick.

Anonymous said...

Should have gotten tubes with child #1. Glad we got tubes with #2! They made all the difference in the world!

Anonymous said...

Do it!!! It changed the Mace's life and she did become immune to an antibiotic!

Kelly said...

We've had two sets. Hudson would never show any signs of ear infections other than a runny nose, I would have to know to take him to the Dr. after 3 days of runny nose. But when they tested his hearing it was a little off. After the tubes it returned to normal levels.

The tubes stopped working after about 14 months and we had another set put in. I think the pressure in his ears kept him from sleeping after he had felt so good for so long. And there was the time he sneezed and perforated his ear drum, that was lovely.

Since the second set we have had no problems and there's no fluid back there hanging out and we are getting a consistent night's sleep again.

The surgery took less than 15 minutes and he was back up and running by the 8:30, eating a biscuit and playing all day. The worst part of the whole thing was getting up so damn early and then you're tired all day and he's ready to play!

Sorry for the book. It was one of the best things we have ever done. So we did it again.

Tracey said...

My niece had ear tubes, but had to have the surgery 3 times before it worked!

Anonymous said...

Both my boys have had them. So I'm all for them and how wonderful they are. However, my second one has them and still has infections - granted there is no oral treatment, now we have ear drops, so I don't have to be concerned with an antibiotic immunity. They are wonderful but .. it didn't necessarily solve our problem.

Angela said...

The main concern I would have with "waiting it out," is just that you never know when a child (or any person) is going to develop an allergy to a medication. And once they do, your choices to treat future infections are limited (take this from someone who knows; at 33 I am already down by two whole classes of antibiotics). I would say go ahead and do the tubes. I had them as a kid too. And I think that's preferable to a future of unknown quantities of antibiotics, which could cause him to become sensitive to them. But that's just my two cents! Hope your little man is feeling better soon!

$hane said...

By all means get the tubes, I'm 27 and I suffered from chronic ear infections as a child, and let me tell you there is NOTHING more miserable then an ear infection. I had tubes put in three different times, the last set I had done when I was in the 2nd grade. Before that I was always painfully aware when they had come out because the ear infections would start up again. I never suffered from any balance or speech problems either, just painful painful ear aches.

My advice, get the tubes.

Heather said...

Chiming in here a bit late. My boys never had problems with ear infections, but my neighbor's son did. He had tubes put in and he still had them.

Turns out when he was 3 they found he had a milk allergy and that was part of the problem. I've heard that before too. Something about the milk causing an increase in mucus production and backing up into the ears.

Anyway, thought I would mention it.

Stephanie said...

Well - I'm on the other spectrum with the ears. My oldest is 7 and my youngest is 3 1/2 - they both had back to back ear infections from the fall that they were born until the year they were between 3 and 4, every year from October through February. I took them to chiropractors, doctors, and the best pediatrician in the tri-state area - the chiropactor helped a lot, but the pediatrician told me with my 7 yo that he would like me to wait until he was 3 and see if they went away because it would give his eustachian tubes to grow and correct themselves. It worked -the year he turned 3 - we had no more ear infections. With my 3 1/2year old - it worked exactly the same way - the year before last was the last time he had ear inf. Unless they are afraid of damage, hearing loss, or if it is causing him an immeasurable amount of pain - I would highly suggest if possible to hold out a while and see if it corrects itself. My little cousin Kennedy went in for ear tubes and came out with blood clots slowly forming behind the ear as a result of the surgery, had they not found them they could have moved into her brain and caused brain damage.

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