An ear infection is an inflammation of the middle ear that occurs when fluid builds up behind the eardrum and often begins after someone has a sore throat, cold, or other upper respiratory infection. Anyone can get an ear infection, but children get them more often than adults. In fact, five out of six children will have at least one ear infection by their third birthday, and ear infections are the most common reason parents bring their child to a doctor. Most pediatric ear infections clear up on their own. If our ENT doctors believe a patient needs treatment, they will outline an interim program that may include medications and ear tube insertions or preventive care methods.
How do ear tubes work?
Under general anesthesia, a small surgical cut is made in the eardrum. Any fluid that has collected behind the eardrum is removed. A small tube is then placed through the eardrum. The tube allows air to flow in so that pressure is the same on both sides of the eardrum. This reduces pain and the risk of chronic ear infection or other complications. Most ear tubes will fall out on their own but some may require surgical removal.
Since earaches and other ear disorders can have various causes, it is always a good idea to see an ENT physician to determine if the symptoms are being referred from other areas of the head and neck. Untreated ear infections can lead to hearing loss, deafness or impaired equilibrium. Knowing exactly what is going on with your ear, nose and throat is the first step in determining the best course of corrective actions. The staff at Jacksonville ENT Surgery always work closely with our younger patients' primary care physicians to provide the best solutions. Together we can make the best choices for your infant or child when it comes to ear tubes and other medical care.
NOTE: Fluid in the ears can occur at any age. In adult patients, the condition is often linked to pressure changes, such as flying or scuba diving (swimmer's ear). Ear tubes can be inserted in older patients if fluid buildup and infection continues to be a problem.