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Ear Tubes

ENT Specialists

ENTs and Allergy Clinics located in Salt Lake City, UT; Murray, UT; Tooele, UT; Draper, UT; & West Jordan, UT

Ear tube insertion is the most common surgical procedure performed in children in the United States. It’s not as common, but adults sometimes need ear tubes as well. The experienced physicians at ENT Specialists in Salt Lake City, Murray, Draper and Tooele, Utah, have extensive experience inserting ear tubes either in the office or hospital. If you or your child suffers from middle ear infections and you’d like to learn more about ear tubes, call one of the offices or schedule an appointment online.

Ear Tubes Q & A

What are ear tubes?

Ear tubes, also called tympanostomy tubes, are tiny cylinders that the team at ENT Specialists surgically inserts into the eardrum. The tubes let fluids drain out of the middle ear and normalize airflow, which prevents pressure from building up inside the ear.

Who needs ear tubes?

Ear tubes are most often used for children, but they can help adults too. The team at ENT Specialists may insert ear tubes for children and adults who have:

  • Recurrent middle ear infections
  • Middle ear infections that resist medical treatment
  • Middle ear infections that last longer than three months
  • Middle ear infections that spread to the surrounding tissues
  • Hearing loss due to fluid buildup in the middle ear
  • Collapsing eardrum (atelectasis)
  • Air pressure injuries when flying or deep sea diving

Ear tube surgery isn’t recommended for all children with recurrent middle ear infections or a fluid buildup. However, inserting ear tubes reduces the risk of future ear infections, supports speech development, and improves behavior or sleep problems caused by ongoing ear infections.

What symptoms indicate the need for an ear tube?

The symptoms of a middle ear infection and fluid accumulation in children include:

  • Ear pain
  • Fever
  • Tugging or pulling at an ear
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Crying or fussing more than usual
  • Trouble hearing (doesn’t respond to sounds)
  • Loss of balance
  • Fluid drainage from the ear
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite

The top symptoms of a middle ear infection in adults include ear pain, fluid draining from the ear, fever, and hearing loss.

How do ENT providers insert an ear tube?

The team at ENT Specialists inserts ear tubes, called a myringotomy and tympanostomy procedure, under general anesthesia either in the office or at the hospitals they’re affiliated with, depending on the patient’s needs.

The procedure, which takes about 15 minutes (not including pre-surgery preparation or post-surgery recovery), begins by removing any wax and debris from the ear canal and examining the eardrum. 

Then your doctor from ENT Specialists makes a small incision in the eardrum, removes fluid from the middle ear, and inserts an ear tube into the incision. The tube usually falls out on its own 6-18 months after its insertion.

If you or your child suffers from recurrent ear infections or fluid buildup, call ENT Specialists or schedule an appointment online.