After your child's ear tube surgery
So your child's had ear tube surgery. What do you need to know when going home? I'm Dr. Alan Greene. I'd like to discuss with you some tips for right after ear tube surgery. First of all, what can you expect after the surgery? Usually because there had been fluid in the ear, hearing will improve right away. In fact, maybe so much so their ears are little sensitive for the first day. There may also be a low grade temperature 99, 100 degrees for a couple of days and it's not unusual at all to have some discharge out of the tubes for 2 or 3 days. The discharge may be clear, bloody, pink, maybe yellow, but some discharge is okay.
What kind of care does your child need? Often your doctor will prescribe some pain medications that you want to be sure and give regularly. They work better if given around the clock for the first 2 or 3 days rather than just when the child complains of pain. And your doctor may also prescribe some antibiotic ear drops to help prevent infections.
When should you call your doctor back? You'll want to call your doctor if there are signs of an infection developing. Usually you'd see a yellowish, greenish, pussy kind of discharge coming from the ear or a foul smell from the ear. Or your child getting more of a fever or a fever lasting longer than we've discussed.
In terms of activity, your child can pretty much do what they feel like. Great activity will not dislodge the tube from the ears. It's not anything you have to be ginger or careful about. But you do want to ask your doctor about whether ear plugs are needed. For some types of ear tubes and some types of activities, they may recommend ear plugs if your child is going to be in the water. For many kids, maybe even most kids, they won't need that.
It's also worth knowing that the ear tubes will most likely come out on their own. Usually somewhere between 6 and 12 months or so. And when they do come out, within about 2 weeks the eardrum will spontaneously heal and hopefully just go right on from there. Ear tubes are not expected to eliminate all ear infections, but they hopefully will make your child's ear infections less common and milder and easier to treat when they are present.
The first little bit afterwards you do want to avoid harshly blowing the nose because it's a little tender in there, but you don't need to be ginger in any other way than that. Hopefully this will get you through the next few days until you check back in with your physician.
- Last reviewed on 9/18/2011
- David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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