Skip to comments.Ear Infection? Think Twice Before Inserting a Tube
Posted on 08/19/2006 12:01:52 AM PDT by neverdem
When my sons were preschoolers in the early 70s, ear tubes were all the rage for children with recurring ear infections. Parents were bombarded by warnings that if fluid in the middle ear lingered long after treatment of an ear infection it could impair hearing and cause lasting developmental abnormalities, including problems with speech and language, learning and behavior.
Two decades later, ear tubes were still very much in fashion. A newsletter published in November 1993 for parents of young children proclaimed that hearing loss resulting from otitis media with effusion, or O.M.E., as the problem is known medically, can cause serious retardation of a childs language skills, teasing and tormenting by playmates and siblings, anger and punishment from parents or teachers who may think the child is deliberately ignoring them and even permanent hearing damage.
What conscientious parent would not want to prevent such disastrous consequences? And so a million or more children each year underwent surgery to have ventilation tubes inserted in one or both ears to clear the eustachian tube and allow the eardrum to move properly in response to incoming sounds.
Acting With the Best Intentions
The tubes were intended to remain in the ear for up to 14 months. By then, many children outgrow the problem. After age 3 or 4, Dr. Robert Stenstrom of St. Pauls Hospital in Vancouver explained, the eustachian tube lengthens and changes position, reducing the risk of middle ear infections and fluid buildup.
Still, after the tubes are removed or fall out on their own, many children need to have them replaced at least once. Each operation involves general anesthesia and the risks it entails.
According to a new long-term study by Dr. Stenstrom and colleagues, when young children were randomly assigned to receive ear tubes or to be treated...
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
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As I kid I was told "never put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear."
Cotton swabs are risky as you found out, prolly spread the infections from scratching the skin inside the ear. Still it is difficult to believe you could not tell when contact with the eardrum occurred, because even if you can't feel it you can sure hear it.
If you have any hearing issues, it's likely due to the fact people are standing so far away from you.
But I have no idea how a 2 or 3 year old can put up with such pain.
What an idiot doctor! And the other doctor sounds more like a lawyer, covering for his colleague. Good grief, a veterinarian wouldn't clean an animal's ear like that!
Animal would bite his hand off.
I still have speech difficulties as a result of long term ear infections and fluid retention. I wish I had been able to have the tubes.
Sounds like grounds for malpractice!!
The thin med line. Hard to find a doctor to say another doctor is wrong, especially in the same clinic.
I put a couple of drops of listerine in my children's ears when they have an infection. It works every time, and is practically non-recurring.
Actually, things have changed.
Twenty years ago, the only treatment was antihistamines, which made a lot of kids sleepy and some very hyperactive/screaming reaction (and rarely seizures).
We had to give antibiotics for ten to fourteen days, and most moms missed doses or stopped them early...
Moms and dads smoked indoors, so more stuffy noses.
And a lot of the infections were caused by "H FLU" or pneumococcus, both of which can lead to meningitis (infection of the brain which can be fatal)
Now, we have clariten, which doesn't make the kids hyper/sleepy.
Antibiotics cost more, but usually you can give a couple days of zithromax and that's it.
Most moms and dads know not to smoke indoors.
And with the pneumonia and hFlu vaccines, we see less severe infections of the ears.\
So we probably don't need as many tubes, and we probably don't need to treat all cases with antibiotics to prevent meningitis and mastoiditis complications
I, too had that done as a 21 year old. My younger sister and I both had horrible ear infections. I had it in one ear, my sister in two. I volunteered to go first so she could see that it wouldn't be too painful and it would go easier on her. I have NEVER had anything pain-wise to compare with it. Like you, I have had many broken bones and serious surgeries, but absolutely nothing can describe the pain that this procedure was. He actually scrapped the ear drum.
However, I don't think that anything could have gotten a grip on the infection like that old doctor did. He was very, very compassionate and ripped his nurses for not letting us in to see him sooner. If I had to have a child (or adult)go through this, I would have them put under. It's a horrible thing. I had to sit and watch my little sister go through it two times knowing the pain she was enduring was excruciating to me.
My mother tells of her uncle, the dentist, taking hold of a nerve in her tooth with a pair of pliers and pulling it out. Her father and three older brothers had to hold her down. Today there would be mal-practice for such a procedure. I can't even imagine the pain that it must have caused. We should all be thankful for modern drugs.
My mother told me that as a baby/young child I was constantly getting ear infections. After I got the tubes I never had another one. Seems they worked great for me.
Very interesting. Thanks to all contributors.
Interesting tidbit, though a little late to benefit most here. Well, for those of you that are going to have children it is good info.
Breast fed babies have significantly fewer ear infections than formula feed babies. That was one (of many) reasons my wife nursed our daughter. Not only did she never have an ear infection, she only needed antibiotics once or twice in her entire life.
Dairy products are a factor in ear and sinus problems in babies and children. My daughter was very sensitive to dairy so she had very little as a kid. That helped too I believe.
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