Dr. Leia Discusses Ear Tubes in Children
Question for Dr. Leia: My grandson who is 13 months old has had a middle ear infection for about 3 weeks now. His doctor says he needs to have tubes put in his ear and if not done soon, he will lose his hearing.
How safe are ear tubes for children? Does this procedure solve the problem? He has had so many antibiotics nothing seems to work anymore. Anything natural we can try? Someone told me ear tubes fall out so that concerns me.
Dr. Leia’s Answer: Children between the ages of six months to two years of age commonly get middle ear infections also known as otitis media. These infections involve the space on the inner side of the eardrum and can occur initially as a result of a cold or upper respiratory infection.
When this area is infected, it fills up with fluid which pushes upon the eardrum or tympanic membrane. Infections can be either bacterial or viral. Usually viral infections do not respond to antibiotics, and with time, they will usually resolve on their own.
If the infection is bacterial, the middle ear space will fill up with fluid, putting pressure on the eardrum, thus causing pain. During this period of infection, the child may have a temporary loss of hearing, but usually it is not permanent, unless there is structural damage.
Usually ear tubes for children can be recommended by your doctor for these three major reasons:
- When fluid is present in the middle ear for more than four months,
- When antibiotics do not work for getting rid of several infections, and
- When there is the possibility of structural damage to the middle ear or eardrum. The Mayo Clinic provides a complete explanation of ear tube surgery or tympanostomy and guidelines for when ear tube surgery is usually recommended.
You can read more, Ear Tube Surgery at the Mayo Clinic
Ear tube surgery, or tympanostomy is a common operation in the US, and it is estimated that over 2 million children have this procedure done each year.
It is true that ear tubes sometimes do fall out, and there are also risks involved as with any type of surgery. If you are concerned about the imminent need for this surgery, you might also want to have a second opinion from an ear specialist or a pediatric EENT (eye, ear, nose, and throat) doctor.
If, initially, you had visited a naturopathic doctor who has experience treating children with ear infections, it would be the preferred choice of treatment and the least invasive before considering antibiotics and then consequently, ear tube surgery.
Your naturopathic physician could then prescribe either a specific homeopathic remedy and/or herbal or homeopathic eardrops for your child, along with advice to remove these highly allergenic foods such as wheat, corn, milk, and soy, from your grandchild’s diet.
Other causes which could predispose the child to further ear infections could also include any second hand tobacco smoke in his home, day care settings, and taking the bottle to bed with him.
Best, Dr. Leia Melead
OTC – Natural Products for Ear Infections in Children – Support for Healthy Ears for Babies and Children
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Eddy Ear Sprinkles
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