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Ear Tubes

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Ear Tubes at Kaiser - yes or no?

Sept 2011

This is a follow up to my post a week ago in the Advice Digest. Most people who responded said we should do the surgery rather than compromise her ear and hearing. We agree, but I guess I didn't elaborate enough. Due to insurance and our experience with Kaiser, since they are our current health insurance company, we would rather not go with Kaiser and wait until next year when we can change insurance companies in open enrollment. My husband is not a fan of Kaiser since his Mom died there, but we cannot change insurance until next year. Husband's Mom received poor treatment, mis-diagnosis, nurse lacked experience, etc. I know doctors are not perfect, people do not live forever, etc.

So as a follow up to my earlier advice post, those of you who are urging us to get the ear tubes, my only questions now are which KAISER DOCTOR AND FACILITY should we go to for my 2 year old daughter? Most of the advice on the BPN web site are for Children's Hospital, which we don't have access to. jk


My son got tubes at Kaiser, at age 17 months, and it went perfectly fine. The surgery was at 9 a.m., we went home at 10:30 a.m., and by noon he was dragging me out for a walk around the block. Within days, there was a noticeable improvement in his hearing. He also has not gotten an ear infection in the five months since he's gotten the tubes, despite one or two colds.

This was at the Kaiser Hospital in Oakland -- not a children's hospital, but a regular hospital. The referral for the hearing test and surgeon all came from our pediatrician, who is in the pediatrics group at the Kaiser Medical Center in Oakland. I was perfectly happy with the treatment my son received, particularly the good communication between all the doctors and surgeons and specialists (due to the computerized records). Becky


Our now 10 year old daughter had fluid filled ears for many months between birth and 18 months that was not caught by the pediatrician. She started talking and then stopped. She had milk protein allergy as a baby and had to be fed hydrolyzed protein formula via an NG tube. Despite being taken completely off dairy products, she still developed fluid behind her ears that impaired her ability to hear and learn to talk. The ENT at Kaiser scheduled her for ear tube insertion. A few weeks after the ear tubes were placed, she started babbling again. She had been hearing ''underwater''. Eventually she outgrew the tubes. They were removed and she has not had the problem with the fluid returning. In addition she has developed a very eloquen vocabulary for a 10 year old - so we are happy that we had them inserted. happy about ear tubes
My son had his adenoids out at Oakland Kaiser. We saw Dr. Joshua Gottschall, who was really fantastic. Warm, easy going manner, great with kids. Our son was 2 at the time and we had never dealt with surgery. He eased our fears. A friend of mine is a doctor and her young son also saw Dr. Gottschall for a palate- related issue. She absolutely loved him as well. I'm sure he does ear tubes since he is the pediatric head and neck surgeon at Kaiser Oakland. I recommend him highly. Anon

Ear Tubes-alternatives, what if we skip surgery

Aug 2011

My 27 month old daughter needs a new set of ear tubes. The one ones fell out. Doc says there is fluid in her ears, like last time. They say she has diminished hearing loss, however hear speech is good and I have observed her and don't see anything wrong -- for instance, sometimes I will purposely speak very softly (like from the front seat of the car, while she's in the back seat) or turn the TV on to the low volume and she can still hear fine. I can tell by her reaction. Also, she whispers to herself all the time. She doesn't yell so I think she can hear herself. I'm no expert though. Also, she's never had an ear infection, as far as we know.

Due to insurance, we might hold off on the surgery for new ear tubes until next year. Is that too long to wait? I can't find anything on the internet about delaying surgery or what if we don't do surgery. Most articles just say ''here is what happens pre and post surgery''. Have you delayed surgery? What are alternatives to surgery?


Just because you speak softly and the child can still hear, doesn't mean there is hearing lost. There are a lot of frequencies that a person is supposed to be able to hear, and just a soft or high voice doesn't cover all of them. It can only be detected with tests.

Is there any reason you don't want to the surgery? I'm not a proponent of unnecessary procedures, and I really did not want to get my son the 2nd set of tubes he got at around 25 months, but it was SO worth it. He had a string of ear infections that would not resolve even with high-potency antibiotics (oh how I did NOT want to use those!), and they ended up also taking out his adenoids. Turns out he had a strep infection sitting in his adenoids. Had we not had the surgery, they wouldn't have found this out. He has since been great, no infections.

Every situation is different, but I wouldn't take any discussion of hearing loss lightly in a child. Laura


If your daughter had a hearing test by an audiologist and the information showed she is not hearing fully, then you can most likely trust those results. Those folks are experts with lots of training. Your duaghter may be able to hear her own whispering just internally and may not be relying on her outer ear. Kids DO end up suffering permanent hearing loss sometimes when they have fluid in their ears for a long time. Happened to my friends nephew. You can imagine how that om feels now, 17 years later. If it were me I would not mess around with it. Read the previous posts. We have one there. I was tired of giving my kid antibiotics and having her get yeast infections, and thought she would be healthier with a physical intervention (tubes in ears). The surgery is a we bit scary just because it is surgery on your kid. Bit it is SO fast and recovery is SO quick. And no more antibiotics for ears! And no more fluid impacting the long-term health of her ear. anon Mom

Ear Tubes for 4yo, to do or not to do

June 2011

Our 4 year old has mild hearing loss (varying between mild 40db, and almost normal 10-20db at different times) and fluid behind the ear drums on and off. He has never had an ear infection, that we know of, just the fluid. He is very bright but he was late to start talking and his speech is not very clear especially compared to his peers. He also tends to be shy, though he eventually warms up, it just takes a very long time, and he rarely speaks up or participates much in group activities at preschool. This might be his natural disposition, but we can't help but wonder if it's related to not hearing well and feeling a little lost.

We could keep up the 'wait and see' or be a little more aggressive and do the tubes now to insure he is hearing clearly 100% of the time in the year before he starts kindergarten. This would be an easier choice if the hearing loss were worse... Any insight or advise that could help us decide? Thank you! Anon


If it were my child, I would probably have the ear tubes done. My son had them, twice, a very easy procedure, and it made life much easier. I would also talk to someone like Dr. Wesman at Children's Hospital to hear what he has to say. Karen
I would do it, as soon as you can. It doesn't seem to me like a good idea to allow any kind of hearing loss to go uncorrected if it is easily correctable as in this case. Particularly since you have concerns about his social engagement, and you have ''real'' school coming up shortly. Give your son a chance to catch up to his peers in all these areas before the new, challenging social and academic environments to come.

I was in your boat a couple of years ago (only my son was 2). It was very scary to take the leap to surgery - I was terrified - but it went smoothly and was not uncomfortable for him. Most important, he was a different child after that, and we are so glad we did it. Ear tubes from the other side


Our son had tubes put in at about 22 months (after MANY ear infections). We should have done them sooner, but were scared to death of the anestesia (sp?). Turned out to be the best thing we ever did...he had been hearing ''under water'' for so long that his speech was blurred (because that is what he heard). We could not believe how quickly everything (including his cranky disposition) improved.

I know that this is not exactly ''on point'' to your question...but it really did help A LOT. We had the operation done at Oakland Children's. At first we were worried as the doctor seemed over confident (''I have done over 10,000 of these operations), but that is because we thought he was younger than he was...when we found out how long he'd been doing them and how many per week...he was right and right to be confident. Originally, he told us that he was on the fence about whether we should do it or not...but 6 months later, we decided we needed to and he was super! Glad we did tubes


I would recommend getting the fluid out if that is indeed the cause of the hearing loss. The sooner, the better! If there is hearing loss detected after the fluid is gone, better to know that earlier so a hearing aid or other solution can be found as soon as possible. Why wait?
Do it!!! I got my first set of tubes (I had 6 sets) in kindergarten, and I remember how hard it was to understand what was going on around me before the tubes. I loved getting tubes! It felt like being part of the world again, instead of an observer. My nephew, who is 4, just went through the same thing. It's a quick outpatient surgery, very low risk. loved tubes
I had drainage holes in my ears when I was young, and it helped with my chronic ear infections and they healed just fine. (I know that is not your son's issue, but it was mine.) My younger sister later had tubes put in, and I'm not sure if she had any hearing loss before that. But we didn't know at the time she scars very easily, and she is now deaf in her right ear because of the remaining hole and scarring from the procedure. She is considering surgery (at age 30) to try and graft some tissue onto the eardrum but it still may not work. So I'd probably be cautious if it were my own child? just my family's experience
I don't understand why you are waffling on this. In my opinion if getting the tubes will provide your son with a health benefit then you should do it. It also sounds like a developmental benefit will result as well. Is your conern cost, effects of anesthesia, or some other? In my family, health issues rule supreme. If there is a health benefit of any sort, do it. As a youth I had tubes inserted in my ear drums almost annually for many years. It was not a big deal (and my parents gave me presents every time - I built up my Barbie doll wardrobe this way!). And it helped me a lot with fluid buildup (I had a severely deviated septum, so breathing through my nose, which helps the ears, wasn't happening). I recommend doing it. Amy
My son had the same issue at about the same age. He did also sometimes get ear infections, but the fluid in his ears was apparently a constant. We did not know until we noticed changes in his speech. He never said anything to us about not being able to hear but it seemed that his once quite clear speech for his age was all of a sudden not so clear and he seemed frustrated with the fact that his friends and teachers did not understand him as well. There were some other behavior which we did not at the time recognize as symptoms - waking frequently at night, being cranky about things that in the past did not seem to be an issue, etc. Sensing that something was not right, we asked his pediatrician to refer him for a hearing test and low and behold he had low level hearing loss attributable to perpetual fluid in his ears. Having seen his cousin go undiagnosed with the same issue for too long - requiring a couple years of speech therapy to correct his speech patterns caused by not hearing well when he was younger - we opted for the tubes (and in my son's case removal of his tonsils etc as well - as they were huge and impacting his sleep/breathing at night). Procedure was quick (in early in the morning and home by early afternoon), the folks at Oakland Children's Hospital were great and we saw immediate improvement in his speech, sleep, mood etc. As we were told would happen, the tubes fell out on their own and the problem was solved. Good luck. Ear Tube Fan
Hi, I haven't see your original post, but here's my experience with tubes and middle ear effusion (aka liquid in ears or ear glue). And here are a couple of links on the subject: http://parents.berkeley.edu/advice/health/tubes.html

http://www.entkent.com/glue-ear-grommets-adenoidsmod.html There are many more websites, and maybe it would help you to google a few more to decide how to proceed.

I would have gotten tubes for my son, but he hasn't been diagnosed until he got older and his eustachian tubes started to drain on their own when he turned 4. You may want to consider that there may be a chance that the ears will clear themselves on their own, or with some help other than surgical procedure.

I still think the doctors who failed to diagnose my son for a year were incompetent, but I am glad in a way he didn't have to go through a procedure thanks to that. We even had a surgery date set, right after coming back from a vacation in Mexico. By the time we came back, I made one more appointment to check hi ears, and found out they finally drained after two weeks on a warm beach.He didn't need tubes any more.

Still, there was so much to deal with because of the issues caused by the liquid in my son's ears: speech delay, balance issues, irritability (no pain though), tension between my husband and I because he thought the delays were due to my teaching our son another language (I am a foreigner).Oh, and my son had to have almost two years of speech therapy from the Berkeley School District.

I would have done the tubes to avoid all of the above. Then again, maybe it was best that I didn't know. In the end, there is no difference in language skills of children who had the middle ear effusion and had the tubes put in, and those who just grew out of it. And the speech therapist was amazing, and got my son ready for kindergarten bettter any preschool could.

Think through your son's situation, consider the alternatives, get a second (third and fourth?) medical opinion and make a decision. Either way, it'll all work out. good luck


Hi. Our daughter had fluid behind her ears at almost every doctor visit for the first two years of her life. We had tried antibiotics right off the bat. When the doctor started talking about tubes in the ears at age 6 months (which of course means general anesthesia), we started looking elsewhere. We tried homeopathy and eastern medicine, neither of which worked very well, though they may have helped some. Finally, we were referred to someone who diagnosed her with candida and allergies, put her on a very strict diet, and within 1-2 weeks she was clearly much better. Just to prove the point, about 6 weeks later, there was a special visitor who gave her 1 piece of candy per day for 6 days - and our daughter developed a bad ear infection. Meg
Sorry for the late response, but I noticed that no one responded who has experience with ear tubes. We have done it twice for our 2 year old after the first set fell out after about a year. Both times were with Dr Wesman at CHO and he is amazing. The anesthesia is no big deal, they don't place a tube in their throat, just use a mask with an inhalant similar to what the dentist uses. They have an anesthesiologist with your child at all times. Some kids wake up upset, mine didn't and was her normal self immediately. The operation takes literally 15 minutes from when they put them under to when you can see them after they wake up. Good luck!

What kind of ear plugs for 4yo with tubes?

May 2010

My daughter just had tonsils/adenoids out with placement of ear tubes. She was 3 at the time and just turned 4. I have tried foam and silicon ear plugs that say they are made for kids, but they all fall out within seconds. Does anyone have any advice for either the best kind of earplugs to use or how to get them to stay in? Also, is it possible for her to actually go swimming in a pool? The few people I have talked to whose kids are older and had ear tubes just gave up swimming for the duration. But my girl loves to swim and we put so much time and energy into getting her independent in a pool. She is on the brink of being able to swim without flotation. I hate to lose that! And, we are going to a friend's house for the weekend where there is a hot tub on a deck overlooking the ocean and she loves it! There is no way I will be able to keep her out of it, so I need to figure out how to make it as safe as possible for her ears. So, if anyone has any experience with this that they could pass on to me, I would greatly appreciate it! Please e-mail me your advice since I'm not consistent about checking BPN postings. Thanks! Michele


My son had ear tubes at 8 months and our ENT gave him fitted ear plugs to wear for swimming (which we were told was completely fine).They are not foam but silicon and they are contoured.

Our ENT mentioned the biggest risk is with dirty water (like swimming in the ocean or a lake). Pool water she said not as big of a risk, but wear the ear plugs if possible.

So I'd check with your ENT on the fitted ones. They don't seem to bother my son. Laura


Ear Tubes, Again

Feb 2010

My daughter had ear tubes inserted when she was 3.5 years old after a string of ear infections and more different types of antibiotics than I can count. It was like a miracle and her hearing improved absolutely instantly, plus no more ear infections.

They stayed in a long time and now it is almost 2 years later -- in fact one is still in. She has been getting the infections again, and they flare up just 2 days after she finishes a round of antibiotics. We got back in to see her ear doc (Dr. Barber at Kaiser) and he is recommending ear tubes again. I am relieved to do this again because she has been in so much pain. He mentioned that some doctors would recommend removal of the adenoids at this point, but that unless we are seeing greenish or pussy fluid draining out of her nose/throat/ears, that he sees no point.

I decided to do my due diligence with a web search about adenoids and ear tubes... The thing that disturbs me is that if the tubes don't come out on their own in a timely fashion, they are recommend removing them surgically or else the hole in the eardrum may be permanent and have to be repaired later.

The tubes he suggested putting in are a ''longer lasting'' type... so can I expect she will need to have her ear drums repaired later? I still definitely want to put the tubes in because she has been in excruciating pain, but I want to know what to expect down the road. Anyone been through TWO rounds of ear tubes? T.


I'm not sure about whether my son had ''longer-lasting'' ear tubes, but he had his adenoids removed at age 2 and has had at least three sets of ear tubes. His ears are now fine, and the tubes came out on their own each time. His doctor checked the tubes every six months or so and if your daughter's doctor does the same it would seem any potential problems would be caught in time. And, not having the ear tubes might mean ruptured ear drums, which can also cause damage. It's nerve-wracking to go through the procedure and then to hear that your child needs ear tubes again, but thankfully children do grow out of it. Good luck. Jodi
Our son had tubes at 15 months, and then again at age 3. I am 100% for it! The minute one of his tubes fell out (around the age of 2.5), he began getting ear infections again, ruptured ear drums, and so on. Those tubes changed my life as his parent (I think I spent every week at the doctor's office until he finally got the tubes). From the time they were inserted, he did not have ear infections at all. Now he is 7, and the ear infections have stopped, and the tubes have fallen out. Hope this helps! Love those tubes!
My son had two rounds of ear tubes (at 2.5 and 4), as well as having his adenoids removed the second time. One of his (2nd round) ear tubes did last a long time. He does not seem to have suffered any ill effects; his eardrums are fine and so is his hearing. I think there is a very good chance your child will be fine. Karen
I had tubes as a child and have only the fondest memories of them. Like your child I was in extreme pain and was having constant earaches. One of the tubes did leave a small hole in my eardrum. I have to tell you as an adult I am so appreciative that my parents got the tubes, even knowing the outcome would be this small hole. It has not affected my hearing at all, in fact my hearing was worse when I had all those ear infections. Further I can say that the hole has not affected my life much at all. I have to be careful not to get water in that ear, so I wear an earplug while swimming, but it really isn't a big deal. In the shower I never get water in either ear. I am not much of a swimmer though. Maybe because I associate water with all those hellish ear infections from my pre-tube days (I got tubes as an older kid). Meredith

Ear tubes for 6 year old

May 2009

I'm wondering if anyone has experience with ''ear tubes'' for older children. My 6 year old daughter has mild to profound unilateral sensory neural hearing loss in her left ear(this is NOT caused by fluid, and cannot be surgically repaired. Recently (the last 10 to 12 weeks) she's also developed increased conductive hearing loss in both ears due to chronic fluid in her middle ear. Now she's having a really difficult time hearing.

There's a possibility that ear tubes would help. She's a trooper, but she'd really, really like to hear better. We're looking into a hearing aid for the permanent sensory neural hearing loss, but wondering if tubes would help for the conductive hearing loss (fluid in the ears).

All of the older posts and info. online I find refer to younger children... anyone know of/have older kids with ear tubes?


My 5 and a half year old daughter had ''t tubes'' (just a more permanent version of regular ear tubes) put in last year. She'd had two sets of regular ear tubes fall out because she'd get a cold and the fluid would build up in her ears and push them out.

Between ear tubes we tried homeopathy, dietary changes and osteopathy to see if we could figure out the cause of the fluid buildup. Nothing seemed to make a difference, so we think that for her it must be a purely physiological issue.

It was really hard for us to decide to do these surgeries, but she was not hearing well at all and it was affecting her in many ways. Having ear tubes and being able to hear everything she needs to has been wonderful.

I would say that if there's a strong case for the tubes helping her hearing, go for it.

BTW, we love our ENT Bernard Drury. He is so warm and patient and informative. And very very sweet with kids. kht


I have a 5yr old almost 6yr old with ear tubes. he just got them in march of this year and this is his second set. he had to get them because he had fluid in the ears and it also was effecting his hearing and also effecting his speach because he could not hear the words right. ever since he got the ear tubes his teachers say that he is understanding more and finaly keep up with his class. he had a hearing test before he got them and failed that now that he has them he has another hearing test coming up so we could just confirm that they did help him, even though i know they did. i could only imagine how it feels to have that pressure in your ears and not being able to hear right. I am happy he got his ear tubes. i know its different for every kid but after his surgery he had little pain which they gave him medicine for and did not need it after 2 days and was back to his self when we got home. you do need to take care of them though like when they are in the shower using ear plugs or swimming using a ear protector I bought one from ear bandit.com they have both there. well i hope this has been helpful and good luck with your little girl... R_B
My now seven year old son had ear tubes placed when he was five. It was a difficult decision and we initially tried other means to get the fluid to move. When the holistic approach failed, we opted for surgery and we're really happy. It was a simple surgery, he didn't have any pain afterwards, and when his ear anatomy matured, the tubes just fell out. What?
My son had ear infections and fluid in his ears on and off until we finally put tubes in his years at age 6. I am very glad we did it (and wonder why they didn't recommend it before). His speech was affected by all the infections and fluid, and it did take years for him to work back his articulation. We had no problem while the tubes were in (he kept them in for 3 years!), no more ear infections, and added bonus: no ear pain during plane flights. They did put him out under general anesthesia for the procedure, which was very quick. You probably know this -- when kids can't hear well, they aren't as able to learn and pick up on social cues, so it has big implications for their social development as well as their speech, and I think my son's spelling was also affected, since he couldn't make out all the sounds. He is now 14 and doing great; spelling is erratic but he is great at spell-check! Julie

Ear tube surgery pros & cons and Dr Wessman

July 2008

I am sure this topic has been raised before so thanks in advance for possibly repeating your information. Our 14 month old has had 8+ ear infections in the last 10 months and we hate the amount of antibiotics she has had in her short life. We have been encouraged to get the tube surgery but of course we are terrified about putting her through the surgery. We have been told that the risks are minimal but would like to hear first hand experience. Also, has anyone had the surgery done by Dr Wessman at Children's Hospital? If so, please let us know your experience with him. Thanks so much! cautious mom & dad


My advice is, do it. My son's ear infections totally stopped (and his hearing improved immensely) when we got the tubes done. The surgery is minimal -- the worst part for the child is actually just waking up from the anesthetic (they are confused and don't feel good). Only lasts about 15 minutes, and the child is fine after that. And Dr. Wesman is great. He's kept tabs on our son since the surgery, and is very careful and conservative. He really knows what he is doing. Karen
Dear cautious mom & dad, My son had the ear tubes surgery at age 2 1/2 after a similar history of ear infections. Like you, we were really concerned about putting such a little person through surgery but in the end we were very glad we did it. He has had only 1 ear infection in the subsequent year and a half. His hearing improved dramatically (as indicated by testing). And, perhaps most important, his everyday quality of life (and therefore ours too!) went waaay up after the surgery. He had started getting ear infections pretty young, and I think we didn't even pick up on all of them. So I now think he must have been in pain and discomfort a lot of the time. His personality really did change after the surgery, especially our ability to soothe him.

That said, it is surgery and there are risks. Most of the risk comes from the general anesthesia. You can hear from me and other posters about instances where it went well, but in the end, no one can guarantee you that your child won't be the one who suffers an adverse reaction. So it is a risk and you have to decide if you're comfortable with that. Then again, losing hearing in one or both ears - especially during language development - is a risk, too.

We had our surgery at UCSF so I can't speak to your specific surgeon. However, I can say that our son experienced virtually no discomfort or suffering that I could tell. Truly, the hardest part was that he couldn't eat breakfast the morning of! He was soooo mad about that! (So try to schedule an early surgery if you can!) I went in the OR with him while they put him under (via mask), and my husband and I were both there when he woke up, groggy but not unhappy. (And not in pain.) I think we gave him Tylenol later in the day but that was about it. There was virtually NO ''recovery time.''

So, again, you have to weigh the surgical risks against the risks of repeated ear infections, but we are very happy with the choice we made. ear infections no more


Our daughter had the surgery w/Dr. Wessman when she was 19 mo. Dr. Wessman is fantastic, as are all of his staff. The surgery is done at Children's Hospital, again, everyone there is amazing. The fluid in my daughter's ears disappeared completely for the first time in a year and she slept better immediately. She had bad reactions to antibiotics so this was really our best solution. The surgery is 5 min long and the hardest part is when they put them under. It is weird to watch but very quick and painless and it is over before you know it. The only other issue is making sure your kid doesn't run around the rest of the day b/c they are a bit wobbly. Our daughter had no pain and no side effects and we are so happy we made this decision. If you haven't met Dr. Wessman yet, go see him. Within 5 minutes of meeting him, your fears will be put to rest. No surgery is ever easy but compared to having your kid on antibiotics forever, this was a breeze. Good luck
Hi, our 4 year old son had ear tubes put in when he was ~16 months old. He had 11 ear infections from 6 months of age on (after he started day care). It was miserable, lots of night crying, and the antibiotics started becoming ineffective (he had to have antibiotic injections for 3 days in a row at one point). We were not happy about developing resistance to antibiotics.

We also were nervous about the procedure, but ended up having it done, at Lucille Packard. There are certainly risks with any procedure requiring general anesthetic, but, our procedure and recovery went very quickly and smoothly and he hasn't had a single ear infection since then, and the tubes fell out normally about a year later. We also had lots of pre- and post-procedure hearing tests to track his hearing loss (which went away eventually).

You can search the web, I believe there are some studies showing rarely long-term health problems tied to multiple ear infections in infants (other than hearing loss and related speech development delay, which is usually temporary). You have to make your own decision, but in our case after it was done we never doubted that it was the right thing. Good luck!

Oh, one last interesting thing, I also had ear tubes when I was a baby, so it seems that being prone to ear infections runs in our family. Matt


my son also had chronic ear infections; we were considering tubes as well until a friend recommended garlic oil ear drops (i got them at elephant pharmacy). amazing!!!!!! no ear or sinus infections since. at the first sign of any ear/sinus issue, i put drops in at bedtime (my son did not like it so i waited until he was asleep). the garlic oil can stain and it does smell the next day but it was so worth it!!!!! ADELINA
Our family has worked w/ Dr Robert Wesman quite a bit. Both my sons had ear tubes put in at around 14 months. They are now 2 1/2 and 5 years old, and the result was great. The procedure itself took minutes, and, although gen anesthesia is always scary, my kids had no problems. My youngest did continue to get ear infections through that second winter, but they were much less frequent and the PT tubes drained the infected fluid immediately so my son was not in much discomfort. The tubes also alerted me to the problem immediately, w/o having to guess if he was experiencing another ear infection. The staff at CHO was also wonderful and we all felt very well taken care of there. Dr Wesman has somewhat of a cool professional demeanor, but in our experience, his professional services are excellent. Good luck! email us if you'd like more details of our experience. toej
One of our twins (2.5 YO) just recently got ear tubes because of hearing problems due to chronic ear infections. We also waited at first but after no improvement deceided to go ahead with the surgery. The procedure does not take very long. Her hearing seems better after the surgery because she talks a lot more and so far we had no problems with ear infections. You just have to make sure that no water gets into the ears Mom of girl with ear tubes
I had Dr Wesman place ear tubes in my daughter's ears when she was 20 months old. I wish we had done it earlier but I was scared and nervous about the surgery. My daughter had persistent ear infections. Her language development was also effected because of the constant water in the ear. Plus we were taking sooooooooooo much time off of work staying home with her when she was sick and in pain. My husband and I had so many days with unpaid leave form work because we were using all of our PTO. The infections were really painful and we tried everything else. We have had the tubes in for 5 months now and have done plenty of swimming with no problems. She has had a couple colds, etc, but they are easily cleared now that her ears can drain. I work at Children's Hospital and Dr Wesman is a well respected physician throughout our community in the hospital. Wesman Fan
Our daughter had ear tubes placed at 25 months old after 8 ear infections in 1 year. I, too, was concerned about the frequency and ever-increasing strength of antibiotics required to treat the infections. We opted to proceed with the surgery with Dr. Moyce (out of Orinda) at Children's Hospital and thankfully she has had great results. The outpatient surgery was completed in less than 15 minutes with the wonderful, special anesthesiologist and nurses at Children's providing excellent loving care. She returned to play that afternoon and was free to return to normal activities the next day. She had one ear infection the next month which was a huge disappointment, though not uncommon and did not mean that the surgery wasn't successful. She did not have another until exactly 3 years later! She experienced the usual colds and viruses that come with childhood and pre-school but no fluid built up in her ears resulting in fewer courses of antibiotics.

The most remarkable improvement was with her speech. Since she did not have to hear through the honey-like substance in her ears any more her enunciation improved and she became able to communicate clearly with everyone. Previously, her grandma, her babysitter and I could only clearly understand everything she said - we didn't recognize a speech impairment, rather thought that her dad and Grandpa were hard of hearing. :-) While her vocabulary has always been expansive, her speech was somewhat delayed but caught up completely by the age of 4 and a half, largely attributable to having the surgery. Please discuss the potential for long-term speech implications with her doctors.

I add that her dad had the same issue (small tubes) and experienced repeated ear problems as an adult until he did a similar procedure with Dr. Moyce as well. Tiny tubes run in the family. He, too, is pleased with the results. Glad We Opted for The Procedure


As far as I can tell, we are the only people who have had a bad experience with Dr. Wesman - so maybe it is anomaly, but I would be remiss for not posting this response. We took our 2 year old to Wesman for chronic sinus infections. She was a stubborn/difficult 2 year old and would not let him look in her ears that day. Rather than try creative Dr. techniques (looking for an animal in her ear, etc.) he strapped her down to a board and had a nurse and my husband hold her so he could look in her ears. Obviously this was quite traumatic for my daughter. She was hysterical the entire time and for hours after the experience, which triggered a terrible stutter that lasted for over 6 months. After that we worked very hard to get her used to having anyone look in her ears. About 6 months later we took her back to Wesman. At this point we knew she had sleep apnea and her hearing was compromised - surgery was what we wanted so she could get some relief. Well, she took one look at Wesman and crawled under the chair in his examining room. Wesman told us he was going to leave the room for a while and if she did not cooperate then we would have to ''muscle'' her. We promptly told him that there would be no muscling (apparently he did not remember her or the trauma she experienced from her last visit).

We started over with Dr. Drury. My daughter LOVED him from the minute he entered the room. He is smiley and pleasant and a competent surgeon. She had her tonsils, adenoids and tubes taken care all at once. It took forever to get the appointment but Children's Hospital was a fantastic facility. Our daughter finally breathes through her nose. She finally sleeps through the night. She has not had another sinus infection. She has a follow-up hearing test next month and I would guess that her hearing is no longer compromised. She is a completely different person. No doubt I would recommend you and anyone else who has noticed that their toddler is not sleeping well and suffering from ear, nose or throat problems take steps to help them feel better. We went from having a ''difficult'' child to a fun, happy, loving little girl. been there


Our son just had ear tube and adenoids removal surgery with Dr. Wessman and it went very well. Dr. Wessman is a wonderful doctor with years of experience. Our son is doing dramatically better now. We just had his hearing tested again and he can now hear everything. We are so pleased we went with Dr. Wessman's recommendation. Kimberly

Ear tubes and adenoidectomy for 19-month-old?

July 2007

For the past 8 months, my 19-month-old son has had a perennial (on again, off again) stuffy nose, generally not connected with a cold. He's often so stuffy he can't nurse and breathe at the same time, and he snores a lot. He is speech delayed as well, so he got a hearing test, which he didn't do so well on. Today we saw a pediatric ENT (Dr. Gottschall at Kaiser) who said my son has fluid behind his eardrums, even though he has had no ear infections that we know of. He said my son's adenoids are probably enlarged as well, and recommended ear tubes and an adenoidectomy.

I've looked up past postings about ear tubes, but they all seem to be about children who have had a string of ear infections. I'd love to hear some advice from other parents whose children have had ear fluid in the absence of infections. Did you go with tubes, and if so, were they a good thing? What are the pros and cons? How big a procedure is it and how hard is the recovery from tube insertion and adenoidectomy?

I'd also love to hear about alternative therapies. I feel suspicious that there's an allergic component to my son's stuffy nose, since he was perfectly healthy until about 1 year and then got these problems just as solid foods started playing a larger role in his diet. Should I be trying an elimination approach to try to figure out if he has a food sensitivity? Are there other approaches that could be valuable? I'd like to get his stuffy nose and hearing problems resolved, especially as he's in such a sensitive period for language development, but I'm leery of poking holes in his poor little ears. Thanks!


fluid behind the eardrums can really cause a mild to moderate hearing loss which accounts for your child's speech delays. My daughter had that problem and the tubes helped but by the time we had it done there was already scaring and permanent loss of hearing. If we had Dr. Gotchall, he would have caught the problem earlier. (he has only been at Kaiser for the last year and our prior ENT was terrible) I trust him and he is the only ENT I will let work on my daughter. He is generally conservative with treatment and has given us options and time to decide. Tubes are no big deal and they usually fall out in 6 to 8 months. You need to take care to use earplugs when bathing but other than that it is worth it. Even if allergies cause the problem (and my child has lots of allergies) it doesn't account for the fluid building up behind the ear drums. Some times the eustation tube is not well developed for drainage or the adenoids are too large. You could ask Dr. Hillsinger for a second opinion (he is the heard of the department) But I have checked out Dr. Gotchall's credentials and they are impeccable. juliet
Hi, I am scheduling my 2 year old daugthers ear tube surgery this week. She has had only one ear infection, but is speech delayed so we did a hearing test. Though her speech was within range she flat lined the tympogram. The ENT said often there is fluid (it can be thick) so far back it can't be seen. In talking with the ENT and her speech therapist at length i am totally pro the ear tubes for my daughter. Yes, it's surgery, but a very short one (15mins) with easy recovery with almost no pain afterward. I have talked to parents who said they noticed their child vocalizing more almost immediately after the surgery. I have heard it being compared to hearing like you are underwater before the tubes are in. Sorry i don't know anything about the adenoidectomy, but i feel the more research you do on the ear tubes the less anxious you'll be aobut that part. EAB
My five year old son just went through this procedure in February '07 for the same problem. We put it off for about 1 1/2 years to try other approaches (homeopathy, addressing the allergies, medication). We also got a second opinion and did lots of research. Like your son, my son never had an issue with ear infections. My son's language was never delayed but he was having problems with peer interactions (and following adult's instructions) because he couldn't hear. The only thing I wish we tried prior to surgery is craniosacral therapy which is very gentle and I've heard it may help with this kind of congestion. As stressed and questioning as I was about the procedure, I am SO happy we did it. I too was worried about the recovery but it went extremely well, no pain at all. The only tiny problem was with some drops the surgeon gave us for his ears after the procedure. My son said they were very painful so the surgeon said we could discontinue them. My son can hear perfectly now and his peer interactions have greatly improved. If only he'd listen to ME! I wish you luck and strength! Please email me with any other questions. amanda
Dr Gottschall just put ear tubes into my 11 mos old son. He has had chronic fluid in his ears since birth. We put the ear tubes in to avoid hearing problems and speech delays. My son recovered very quickly. All we had to do was put some ear drops in for the first week after the surgery. My sister's children had ear tubes as well and did well with procedure. I think it is a relatively minor intervention with a big result -your son;s hearing and speech! - Pro-Ear Tubes
I would get an xray for the adenoids--our son was severely congested for 9 months and misdiagnosed and prescribed antibiotics too many times--in the end, we confirmed with two ears nose and throat specialists that it was his adenoids. He had them removed (age 5) out patient and he was overwhelmed that he could finally breath through his nose--if it is adenoids, I would do that first and wait and see on the tubes. Our son recovered in just a few days. Also keep in mind that he may be suffering with sleep issues b/c of the breathing as well. good luck. m
Hi, I had both my adenoids and tonsils taken out when I was a few years older for hearing loss and it was fine if a bit painful. I don't about adenoids getting better, but I know it can be very problematic for children who are just learning to speak to have hearing problems. anon
My then 4 year old had fluid on one side, even when whe did not have a cold. She was not complaining of pain. But her hearing was being impacted by the fluid's continued presence. My friend's child had had permanent hearing loss from prolonged fluid in their ear that was mis-diagnosed. I definitely wanted to avoiid that. Also, earlier in her life when she had more ear infections, I think she began to get a yeast infection form the antibiotics. So for 2 reasons we elected to get her tubes put in, and it worked well for her. It was done at Children's Hospital, with a doctor who does not push ear tube surgeries. It went very quickly. She recovered well. (It still is not fun to have your kid go through it - but we focused on the improtance of her hearing, and our wish to get her off of the antibiotics). So my advice is, if the child's hearing is being impacted, get it taken care of. It may very well be a mixture of things causing the problem. And one of those things may be the physical structure of your particular child's ear. Don't wait for the sometimes long-term allergy analysis to work out, and they don't always. Time is too precious for those rapidly growing ears and brains. Anon Mom
Hi there, My daughter was in a similar situation to your son, though for her it started when she was about 2.5. I think she had maybe two ear infections that winter/spring, but the larger issue was that the fluid behind her eardrums was just not draining. It definitely affected her hearing and thus her ability to follow conversations and interact with others. After trying homeopathy and eliminating dairy to no avail, we went ahead with ear tubes because we felt that the hearing loss, while not permanent, was really affecting her socially (and it would have affected her developmentally if it had gone on for longer). She'd been an early talker and an avid conversationalist, so it was sad to see her missing parts of stories and not understanding teachers and other kids were telling her.

The ear tubes definitely worked -- within days she'd stopped saying ''what?'' every time we told her something. Her teachers at preschool said they noticed a huge difference in how she interacted at school. It was totally worth it.

Then they fell out after just three months, which was really early. She'd had a bad cold and I think the congestion was enough to push them out. The fluid buildup began again and her hearing issues returned almost immediately. At that point her ENT said we should consider the adenoidectomy -- he told us that there wasn't any way to see for sure if her adenoids were enlarged until she was under anesthesia to replace her ear tubes. So we went ahead with the ear tubes and he found her adenoids were huge and went ahead with the adenoidectomy as well.

That was about 3 months ago and so far so good.

If you'd like to know any more about our experience, feel free to email me. Good luck with your decision! Keri


My daughter had a very similar situation. She had fluid in the middle ears which caused her speech delay. She only had one minor ear infection. We saw Dr. Wesman at Oakland Children's Hospital and had ear tubes put in and also had adenoids removed. The recovery was quick and she was back at her preschool the next day or so. Her speech picked up right after she's got the ear tubes. The first set came out after 9 months or so and the fluid started to build up again. We opted for another set of ear tubes. One of them has come out again now, but the fluid is not accumulating this time. She is 4 years old now and her speech has caught up. All is well now and we are happy with the results. anonymous
i'd be leery to!!! i was thinking ''allergies'' as i read your post, and then laughed as i got to the bottom paragraph. i think it's negligent that your ped didn't explore this first, rather than jumping to surgery.

dairy dairy dairy! cut it out for a month. look carefully at ingredients of processed foods, as it hides as casein, whey, etc, soy, wheat and corn are other culprits. if you are nursing, you should eliminate it, too. supplement with vit A cod liver oil and vit C, mineral supplements to boost the immune system. for fats, olive oil and coconut oil are great. give him probiotics.

go to mothering.com, and check out their allergy forum: http://www.mothering.com/discussions/forumdisplay.php?f=307

good luck! signed: stuffy mama of mama of stuffy girls


Ear tubes for 4-year-old with hearing loss

Oct 2006

Hi, My good friend has a 4 yr old son that has been having inner ear trouble/fluid/ear infections since he was 2. His hearing is so bad that when you speak to him he doesn't hear you. He is starting to lip read. His pediatrician sent him to an audiologist: no movement at all in right ear, very little in left. Ear tubes are recommended. She has heard pro and con for the tubes, but it seems like in his case, it is necessary. Have any of you gone through this, taken your child to a good ENT, successful surgeries, horror stories, etc? thanks for any info rachel


My son had tubes put in his ears when he was 2. There were no complications and they eventually fell out a couple of years later. Ear drums healed fine. Now he is 17 with normal hearing. We had this done in Kaiser. It's apparently a very routine procedure. Best wishes on your decision ProTube Mama
Ear tubes was a great thing for our 4 yr old (who is now 10). We did not want her to lose movement in her eardrum and wanted her to be able to hear 100% - what parent wouldn't? We also didn't want her on repeated doses of antibiotics. For us and our daughter, ear tubes were an easy choice. We had to be brave and get over our own fears of surgery and do the right thing for our child's life long ability to hear other people speak, hear music, hear cars driving towards them, etc. etc. Getting tubes in ears is surgery BUT is truly minor on the spectrum AND it is such a quick procedure that it is over within a few minutes. I encourage you to ask you friend to go talk with an ENT DOc ASAP for the sake of her child's hearing. Sometimes as parents we have to be brave and do scary things. Also 9as the moderator said) ther is a whole bunch of stuff on this in the archieves Grateful Mom of Hearing Child
You'll hear many referrals for Robert Wesman at Children's Hospital, but here's another one. Took my son when he was two and lip-reading, had the tube surgery done. It went beautifully, no problems, and was well worth it. The surgery itself takes 5 minutes, and the child is up and running around by the next day. Hearing at this age is absolutely critical. If the child can't hear properly, have the tubes put in Karen
Ear tubes were recommended for my son about a year ago when he was four. We decided to try other methods--such as try to clear up his allergies which seemed to be the reason for constant congestion and stuffy ears. He's had a little relief from the allergies/hearing loss with the help of homeopathy but it's not a dramatic change. I began to reconsider ear tubes when I recently saw an article regarding research that found that kids that get ear tubes are more likely to suffer hearing loss later in life due to the ear tubes. Go figure. Anyway, I obviously don't have an answer but it's another piece of information for your friend to consider --Huh? What?
I can't imagine why anyone would NOT get ear tubes in this case. Not hearing can have long-term effects on speech, language, and reading development. Of course, my child got ear tubes at 4 years, for chronic ear infections, and we've been pleased. No horror stories. We are Kaiser members, we didn't shop around for a different ENT Heather

Ear sensitivity after having tubes put in

Oct 2006

Our 4 year old son had tubes put in his ears last spring after a string of ear infections. Overall he seems to be doing fine. We used wax plugs for baths for the first month or so and then stopped. He did a lot of swimming over the summer without plugs and we never heard a complaint. Lately, when we are giving him a shower, he screams the moment we get his hair wet, complaining that we have hurt his ears. We are very careful about not spraying water directly in his ears, but he still gets very upset every night. We doubt that his ears are really hurting, but I was wondering if anyone else has had a similar experience with their child, and/or has some good ideas on how to deal with it. I am thinking that I will go back to the ear plugs for shower time just to keep him from screaming! Concerned Mommy


I am surprised that your child's ENT didn't tell you not to get water in his ears until the tubes fell out. swimming and showering and bathing are ways water gets into the ear and causes infections. Your child should see a pediatric ENT to see why it is hurting.
mom of another ear tube child

How long can ear tubes be left in?

Oct 2005

Our 2 1/2 year-old daughter had ear tubes put in both ears a year and a half ago after having 8 ear infections in 6 months. My understanding is that typically, tubes fall out and the ear drum closes up on its own. We have been told that if they don't fall out, they need to be removed after two years. This is a surgical procedure. The risk in not removing them and leaving them in is that when they do eventually fall out, the ear drum would not heal itself and a surgery would need to be done to patch the ear drum.

Does anyone have more information about this? Could anyone share their experience with this matter? It seems to me that we either have a surgical procedure to have them removed with the risk that they would need to be reinserted if she begins chronic ear infections again. Or we leave them in and she may need a the patching surgery at a later time. I'm leaning towards leaving them in. Are there risks to this? I'd love any input people have. Thanks!


My daughter had ear tubes put in when she was 15 months old. One of them finally fell out when she was 4 1/2; the other one didn't. I'd had conversations with her pediatrician from when she was three about removing them -- first we put it off to get through another cold season with them in; then I just wound up busy and didn't deal with it. Shortly after she turned five I got a referral to a pediatric ENT who looked at it, said it was part way out on its own, but kind of stuck (so it wouldn't just fall out). He said we could 1) have him just yank it then and there, which would hurt or 2) set up a time to have her put under for a removal procedure.

I went with 1. He used a long tweezer like thing, it was over in seconds, she cried and then she was fine.

Anyhow, to get back to your question, it's not a big deal to have them in there for a few years, so long as you're checking in with your pediatrician to make sure everything's okay; at least in our case waiting to have them removed meant a much easier removal in the end. I worried over this for the longest time and in the end, it was not a big deal that we waited. Kathy


Gosh, we sort of had the opposite problem. Our son's ear tubes fell out within a few months (they were put in when he was about 2 and a half), and we had to have them redone a year later. So leaving them in might be useful, especially since you mention your child had a lot of trouble with ear infections (ours did too -- he was on a course of antibiotics every few weeks for awhile!). In our case, both parents have ear troubles as well, so our son's inner ear workings are probably genetically inefficient.

However, you don't mention what your ENT recommends (or who he/ she is, for that matter). I would tend to follow this person's advice. Our ENT, Dr. Wesman, is extremely competent, and very conservative when it comes to surgery -- he has been spot on with his recommendations, and I would completely trust him. Karen


Recurring ear infections - tubes?

Jan 2004

Wondering about peoples current experiences dealing with reoccurring ( 3-4x per year) ear infections in toddlers. Thanks


My daughter had 5 ear infections in her first year and we went to a specialist to discuss tubes shortly after her first birthday. From what we understood from our meeting, the surgery would only give us around a 50% chance of eliminating the ear infections and came with the concern about general anesthesia. We decided to try alternative methods for one year and see if we could minimize infections on our own. With help and suggestions from family and friends, we did the following: switched from cows milk to enriched rice beverage (my daughter is intolerant of soy), made a 'rule' that bottles were to be consumed in a chair, and when she had a cold we: eliminated dairy, put lavendar oil (3-4drops) in her vaporizer, gave alternating doses of pulsatilla 30x and kali bichromic! um 30c, kept her well- hydrated and gave dimetapp elixir at naptime and bedtime. She had 6 or 7 colds in her 2nd year and no ear infections. I'm sorry to say that I can't tell you which of the above suggestions might have been the secret, because with each successful avoidance of infection I became less willing to mess with a good thing, if you know what I mean. Good luck! diana
After a relatively ear infection-free first three years, my daughter began to develop ear infection after ear infection to the degree that her hearing was not coming back up to normal in one ear, but she wasn't in pain. She also began to develop yeast infections as an antibiotic side effect. We began to notice her hearing in one ear was off because at bed time when her good ear was on her pillow, she had to lift her head to hear us speak. Also, in a loud room if we whispered in that ear, she couldn't hear us. Soooooo, we felt we needed to take care of her hearing and that physical intervention (tubes) was safe enough to go for. Also, I, and at least one of my sibs-in-law had them when we were youg, so it wasn't a totally new experience for us. For our daughter, we used an ENT surgeon at children's who had a lot of experience (Wesman) (He has a great audiologist on staff). The hardest part for us was being with her when she went under anaesthetic. But it all went very quickly. We were in the waiting room for a very brief time before we were called in to her. She was cranky as she woke up, but okay soon after. Her hearing has been great ever since. She has had no more yeast infections. She is in elementary school now. My advice in brief?...do what feels best for you, but make s! ure you get your child's hearing checked (by a truly qualified person in a quiet environment) periodically. anonymous

Ear tubes for 2-year-old with hearing impairment?

April 2003

It is looking like we might get ear tubes for my son. He's two, has had multiple ear infections, and currently has some hearing impairment due to fluid in his ears (the auditory nerve is fine), even though he hasn't had an ear infection for months. Although he is talking lots! -- including complete sentences -- his pronunciation is not great, and he very often mishears me, especially when I'm not talking and looking right at him (e.g. I say cook and he hears book). What have been people's good and bad experiences with ear tubes? Were they worth it, or did they create more problems than they solved? Karen


My daughter has a hearing loss due to nerve damage, but on top of that she has had ear infections and fluid build-up in her ears. She has had tubes 2 times now (they fall out within 9-12 months) and both times her hearing has greatly improved. Her vocabulary increased, she understands what I'm saying better, and she speaks clearer.And she has only had one minor ear infection since she got them in January. This last time they put tubes in I was amazed at her progress and she doesn't even really need her hearing aid anymore. I highly recommend getting tubes for your your son, especially since he is at a critical age and he needs his hearing to be at an optimum for learning, and speech and language development.I wasskeptical at first about the need for tubes but I've seen what a difference it makes. Like I said, they fall out after 9-12 months, which is kind of a bummer because then he might have to have another set put in, but to me it's worth it.If you have any more questions, feel free to email me. I do consider myself an expert on this since my daughter has had so many ear problems, and I did too when I was young. Rachelle
My daughter had 11 ear infections in one year. She had ear tubes put in at 20 months of age. To date, she has not had another ear infection (she's 3 1/2 now). For me, the benefit of the tubes far outweighed being off and on antibiotics for a year. I have many other friends who have had only positive results from ear tubes for their children. Good luck with your decision! Patty
For our daughter, the ear tubes were definitely worth it, but that's not to diminish that the ''it'' -- inserting them under general anesthesia -- is pretty scary with a very small child. Our daughter got the tubes at age 13 months, after several months of many ear infections. More importantly, like your son it seems, she constantly had fluid in her ears that did not drain even when her ears were not infected. We did go to an audiologist, who felt that her hearing was affected.

The surgery was really hard on us, her parents; probably not so much on her. Maybe I will sound oversensitive since the actual surgery was very brief. She was not allowed to eat for twelve hours before, and at that age she was still accustomed to nurse during the night. At the hospital in the morning, they put us in a room and the anesthesiologist gave her an oral sedative, which made her very sleepy and smiley. After it took effect, the anesthesiologist took her away wrapped in a blanket. They used gas to put her under, put the tubes in, and brought her out again in under ten minutes. She was already starting to wake up when they brought her out, so I think the anesthesia must have been quite light. However, she had monitors taped to her and a kind of a tube blowing oxygen under her nose, which was scary for me. Actually when they first brought me into the recovery room with her, they had told us that only one parent could come in, but I looked so bad that they went and got my partner. Our daughter perked up really quickly though, drank a bottle of sugar-water that they gave her, and we left in an hour or so. I think we gave her some Tylenol but there was no indication she was in any pain.

The tubes helped our daughter enormously. They did not stop her from getting ear infections, although she got a lot fewer. The main benefit was that her ears could drain. You would not believe what has drained out of our daughter's ears -- sticky yellow mucus, a couple of times blood, and once some stuff that looked like pea soup. The only thing grosser than seeing this stuff come out of the ears is thinking about it building up in there with no way to get out.

Because the ears can drain, the ear infections are really different. The kid starts acting really sick and miserable for a few hours as the pressure builds up, but there's nothing visibly wrong. Then the level of fluid gets high enough to start the draining, the pressure goes away, and the kid is running around again, happy as a clam, with some really disgusting goop coming out of her ears. It is such a relief to see her feel so much better so quickly, but it's kind of comical because she's oblivious to the stuff draining out that to an adult looks horrifying.

We always get the doctor to check the ears out when this happens, and they prescribe antibiotic ear drops. Once the ENT cleaned her ear out with a tiny suction device. One thing I wish we had followed up more on is that before we got the tubes, we were told that one advantage of getting them was the ability to treat ear infections topically rather than with systemic antibiotics. However, with the few ear infections she has gotten, the doctors have usually prescribed both antibiotic ear drops and systemic antibiotics. In retrospect I wonder if this is overkill but at the times we've been too concerned about the obviously yucky state of her ears to question whether the systemic antibiotics are necessary.

One of our daughter's tubes just fell out after being in there about two years; the other is still in as far as we know. She hasn't had an ear infection in at least a year. Back when she was still getting ear infections we stopped taking her in the swimming pool, but she is crazy about swimming now, we've made little effort to keep her ears dry, and she hasn't had any infections. We did not worry about her ears in the bath. There's no indication the tubes have affected her hearing adversely.

So, in sum, I would not do it lightly, but I would definitely do it again in my daughter's situation. In fact, since her ears were more or less blocked up from about 7 to 13 months, in retrospect we probably should have agreed to have it done sooner.

I hope this helps you with your decision. Teresa


My daughter got tubes at age 2 after a year of infections and fluid in her ears. Her speech and intelligibility improved dramatically and quickly.

We had absolutely no problems with the tubes. At her final checkup with the ENT the tubes had fallen out and the ears had healed completely with no scarring.

A couple things to consider first, our ENT told us that prolonged fluid that never drains can cause permanent scarring in the ear tubes. Second, hearing impairment due to fluid can also cause some kids a certain level of social isolation.

The tubes changed all of our lives. Huge fan of our ENT


Ear tubes for 1-year-old with "Severe Otitis"

My son, now one year old, has had fluid behind his ear drums for nearly two months now. We've been to a pediatric ENT (Wesman) who told us he had "Severe Otitis" and recommended antibiotics with possible tubes in the future. Our family doctor is willing to be patient and recommended an acupuncturist (who we are now seeing). My son definitely has some hearing loss, but is gaining a few words, so we feel we can afford to spend the time to wait and see if alternative methods work.
Question #1: if alternative methods are not successful, has anyone had success with antibiotics for this condition? It's not clear to me that an infection is the root of the problem. I'm not eager to have tubes put in, but I've heard so many stories about "multiple rounds of antibiotics" that I'm not eager to go through that if we'll end up getting tubes put inanyway.
Question #2: I'd also be interested in hearing about people's experience with tubes - how big a deal was it to have them put in, are they hard to care for once they are in, and did they make a difference?
Question #3: Has anyone had experience with Dr. Wesman (the pediatric ENT) they care to share? He would probably be the one to do the surgery if its needed.


We found that my son had hearing loss when he was in kindergarten - he had fluid behind the ears due to enlarged tonsils and adenoids. We went to Dr. Wesman who eventually did surgery - adenoidectomy and tonsillectomy. We found Dr Wesman to be very personable, easy to talk to, and forthright. He was great the day of the surgery (as were all the staff there - very caring, parents themselves, most of them, empathetic, etc.) Our story ended happy - our son's hearing was restored. Good luck.
Dr. Wesman put tubes in my daughters ears in August when she was 27 mos old. The operation took 5 minutes, and she recovered from the anesthesia within 2 hours. When these tubes fall out, I will not hesitate to replace them if needed. Being able to hear better made a big difference to her. She became more physically active, more talkative, more social. I suggest that you talk loudly and keep the TV, stereo, radio off while your child's hearing is even slightly impaired. Our daughter with "mild/moderate hearing loss" could understand speech only when there was NO background noise. So, although she could and did learn words, she didn't get the opportunity very often. Good Luck!
My daughter went through the usual rounds of toddler ear infections, which diminished as she got older. Then last spring at age six, she had several rounds of ear infections and developed a severe hearing loss in both ears, which we were slow to recognize because of problems at school. We were referred to Dr. Wesman, who confirmed fliud behind both ear drums, accompanied by a severe hearing loss in both ears, which was not permanent. He could not tell us the cause of the continuing problem, nor did he seem to care. He was definite that the solution was to put tubes in the ears, under a general anesthetic. He also mentioned that sometimes the tubes fall out, and they have to repeat the operation. I was hesitant, partly because of earlier mails on the parents list questioning the efficacy of tubes, but mostly because there is always a small risk of death with a general anesthetic. In my opinion, it takes a lot to justify general anesthetic. Dr. Wesman tried a prescription decongestant, which didn't help. I suggested testing for allergies, which came up negative. In the meantime, she continued to get ear infections, which her family doctor would treat and proclaim cured, only to be followed by another. And the hearing loss persisted. I finally concluded, contrary to my doctor's opinion, that rather than having a series of ear infections, she had a single persistent ear infection that was being declared "cured" by the doctors whenever it subsided down to a certain level, then kept popping up again. I persuaded one of the doctors to put her on a three-month low- intensity regimen of antibiotics. We finished the three months about a month ago, and, according to the normal family-doctor-style hearing test, her hearing in both ears has returned to normal. We'll be following up again with the family doctor in another two months, and I plan to follow up with Dr. Wesman to test her hearing more precisely. I have been very torn throughout this time. My own sister has a permanent hearing loss, and in fact a permanent inner ear infection, stemming from when she was seven or eight years old. So I don't want to avoid treatment if it's necessary. But I had to trust my own judgement over the judgement of the doctors, who had no idea what her problem was, but were nonetheless extremely sure of the solution. Dr. Wesman seems to be extremely competent, following standard medical practices, but was impatient with my desire to explore alternatives. I have since explored some medical databases:
 
http://www.icondata.com/health/pedbase/
http://www.med.jhu.edu/peds/neonatology/poi.html
http://search.info.nih.gov/

I learned the following by reading medical studies:

1. Prescribing decongestants for otitis, as Dr. Wesman did, has been 
shown by research to be ineffective. 
2. The tubes themselves tend to be effective, in statistical terms.
Although Dr. Wesman did not admit to any risks, there are some.
3. Removing tonsils is ineffective.
4. Removing adenoids sometimes helps, but only if the adenoids are 
inflamed.
5. I can no longer find the reference, but I saw a study on treatment 
of otitis using the non-sugar sweetener, xlylitol (sp?). The study 
divided a large group of children with otitis into 4 groups and 
treated them with 1) ordinary syrup, 2) ordinary chewing gum (I don't 
remember if it was sugar-sweetened or not), 3) syrup with xylitol, 
and 4) chewing gum with xylitol, and the study compared the results. 
Both the syrup with xylitol and the chewing gum with xylitol were 
each statistically effective -- that is, they helped in some cases. I 
think maybe as many as 40% of the cases. It also mentioned that 
xylitol was already known to be effective in reducing detal cavities. 
I went looking for gum sweetened with xylitol myself for my daughter, 
but I couldn't find any.

I had tubes in my ears from ages 4 (I think) through about 7 (in the '60's). My recollection is that they were a MAJOR pain for everyone. I remember endless rounds of vaseline and lamb's wool in my ears every time I wanted to go in the family pool. And if I forgot, and put my head underwater, it was a huge deal, as well. I didn't get to learn to swim till I had the tubes out, which was definitely a problem with a pool in the backyard! On the other hand, I also had fewer ear infections after that, so I suppose they helped. And I apparently experienced no hearing loss from any of the infections, nor from the tubes themselves. Notably, I *don't* remember the surgeries, either to put them in or take them out (usually they "grow out" by themselves, but for some reason they did not for me, so I had them in much longer than is common, and then had to have them removed). In addition to antibiotics and tubes, I also had allergy shots till I was about 10 or 12 years old, which did seem to help as well. BTW: to this day I am REALLY twitchy about getting water in my ears! Good luck!
My son had fluid in his ears, hearing loss, etc. At about 18 months he had tubes put in, by Dr. Moyce. It was about as easy as surgery with general anesthesia can be -- definitely a big deal in our family, but not as surgeries go. Unfortunately, both tubes fell out within a couple months. We continued with ear infections, antibiotics, etc. until he was about 2.5, and then had Dr. Wesman put in new ones. These lasted much longer, until those little ear canals grew bigger on their own and the infections stopped happening. Dr. Wesman was fine to deal with throughout. The tubes require no maintenance or special care, except that swimming and other head-immersing activities were off-limits. We had ear checks with the pediatrician, but no more often than we had already been seeing him with all the infections before surgery. The tubes stopped the infections, and made a dramatic, obvious difference in my son's ability to hear.
I recently read in Child (or was it Parent??) magazine about a new procedure using lasers to make a tiny--well I hate to say it, but--a tiny hole in the ear drum to let the fluid drain out, instead of having to put in tubes. The article said the procedure was much easier than the tubes, did not involve general anaesthesia, and did not have to be repeated as tubes sometimes do. Might be something to look into. Also, since you feel you are not in an emergency situation, I would definitely look into homeopathy--I like Christine Ciavarella at Hahnemann Clinic on San Pablo in Albany a lot. It might work, and can't hurt.
I have a boy of the same age with persistent and recurrent ear infections, so your request hit home with me. Why would you want to risk his language development? I am not an authority on tubes, but I know several people whose kids had them with no ill effects (except one had to have them inserted again when they fell out, which is common). Years of speech therapy to correct the delay caused by not hearing certain sounds as language develops at this crucial time will be more costly and potentially more damaging (to self esteem and lost opportunities for your child) than antibiotics and a minor surgical procedure.
I had ear problem after ear problem as a child and wanted to second the person who said you can pierce the eardrum to let the fluid drain. Tubes were horrible as a child for me although maybe they are improved now. I missed out on all water related events. To this day I have a full-blown phobia of getting water in my ears after so many years of "being careful." I would also check into all non-surgical means (I eventually had both my eardrums surgically replaced after years and years of damage from ruptured eardrums and, yes, scarring on the eardrum from the tubes). Try eliminating the fluid through the lengthy antibiotic run or natural means, have you looked into flaxseed oil? I know it sounds strange, but it can help with some ear problems/fluid if you can gag it down. Eventually, I simply grew out of the ear infections (eustacian tube growslarger and the fluid begins to drain). I was about 8 or 9. My hearing was affected when there was fluid, but there was enough time when it wasn;t that my speech development was not affected. Eventually, I'll bet your kid grows out of it. Just my 2 cents.
I heard about the same study detailing the effectiveness of xylitol chewing gum. I found the gum at the health food store -- General Nutrition Center or GNC -- next to the Berkeley Games store at the corner of Shattuck and Center in downtown Berkeley. My 4-year-old son has had a series of ear infections. I encourage him to chew the gum as often as possible. It doesn't taste very good so he spits it out after a while... The gum is called Ford Xtreme Xylitol Gum. 12 pieces cost 99 cents.

Tubes for 2-year-old with fluid in his ears?

April 2002

My 2 year old son has been diagnosed with fluid in his ears as a result of an ear infection. We were told that he needs to get tubes in his ears as soon as possible. Has anyone had any experience with this? While I am open to getting tubes in his ears, I am also looking for information on alternative treatments, such as chiropractic and homeopathic methods. At this point, as soon as possible to the ENT our HMO referred us to means two months away. My little boy seems ok during the day, only pulling on his ears occasionally, but cries at night when he is lying down. Is there anything I can do for this? I gave him a big pillow to lie on so that his head is more vertical, but it doesn't seem to help. emily


Give Garlic mullin ear drops when the nose starts running (to prevent ear infections. If I didn't pay attention and an ear infection crept up unrelated to a cold (i.e. bathwater got into ear), I have treated it with Goldenseal, which I put into the infected ear. It reduced pain and helped the ear drain and cured the infection. However, it won't stop me from taking my daughter to the doctor to get a clear diagnosis of the degree of infection. At the age of 5 she has only had 3 ear infections in her life that I decided to treat with prescribed antibiotics. You can also cut down the risk of ear infection by not serving cold liquids at fridge temperature (I add a dash of hot water or heat drinks up to room temperature when she has a cold). Avoid drafts around the ear when your kid has a cold. Put that hood on, roll that car window up higher or skip the Marina afternoon winds. I read most of this advice in books at the herb store Llasa Karnak in Berkeley. Maybe, a bit inconvenient to follow these things, but it sure works! My daughter only got an ear infection when I slipped following these guidelines. A Mom
If this is his first time with fluid in his ear I wouldn't put tubes in his ears. Last year my daughter had 6 ear infections ( 3 of which were double) in 5 months (Dec- April) and only then did the whole tube thing come up. She also had fluid in her ears most of that time ( all but about 2 weeks of it). We had her hearing tested in April and it was perfect. We had the choice in April on tubes or no tubes and we decided (with guidance from our pediatrician) to wait and see since it was the end of cold season and she didn't have another ear infection until Oct and just now in April. So we feel the worst is over and I am glad we didn't do tubes. With tubes they can not get there ears wet without a lot of caution. there is also a great place to go and ask other moms who have been in this position it is at http://www.parentsplace.com/messageboards/ Then scroll down tothe heading kids health and click on earaches. Good luck Melinda
Concerning having tubes...I would like to respond to a point made in previous advice concerning getting your child's ears wet if they have tubes... My daughter has had tubes in her ears for about one year. Her ENT doc (Wesman) said that she could get her ears wet and could go swimming as long as she does not submerge her head more than 3 feet below the water 's surface. She continued her swimming lessons and baths and showers during the year without additional precautions and she has had no problems from getting her ears wet. mom of kid with tubes
Hi, I went through 8 months of ear infections with my son when he was about 1.5 yrs old. During the last six months he was on constant antibiotics of all sorts, but it never went away. He had also, at that point, never slept through the night without waking. After very reluctantly scheduling ear tube surgery, I was pointed by a chiropractor to the book ''Healing Childhood Ear Infections'' by Schmidt. I was up to that point very leery of alternative treatments. Boy did I make a turnaround! I don't know which of the recommendations fixed my son's problem. But that very first night after beginning treatment (including homeopathic remedy, removal of dairy products, and a particular method of massage), he slept clear through the night. His ear infection cleared up immmediately, never to return. I will be happy to loan you the book if you like, but strongly encourage you to avoid surgery until after you try this alternative. Michelle

3-year-old having tubes put in ears - swimming OK?

After 16 ear infections, tons of antibicodics and a bit of speech delay our 3 year old is about to have tubes put in her ears. Have others dealt with this? We've been told no swimming for the next 6 months to a year and to keep her ears dry while shampooing. O.K. the swimming part I can handle but how about some tips on hair washing? She already doesn't like it so I'm hoping to get to some fun and easy shampooing experiences. CorViele
My daughter got ear tubes when she was 3. The experience was more tramatic for us parents then it was for her. We had it done at Childrens Hospital by a doctor whose name I forget but he's the one who does most of the ear tube work there. He does many of these so they have a very nice procedure for telling your kid what's going to happen ahead of time in a kid friendly way. The actual work didn't take long but they have to put the kids under so they don't move around. It did take an hour or so for my daughter to come out of it. We did have to be careful at bathtime but it wasn't too hard. The tubes did seem to do the trick for stopping ear infections. I've heard all kinds of stories about ear tubes but based on my experience I would give them a try. Jon
My son just got ear tubes put in by Dr. Wesman at Children's Hospital. Wesman allows swimming (going no deeper than 3 feet under) and hair washing without ear plugs. He says he hasn't had any complications from this. You my want to ask your doctor about it. Benson
I remember having my hair washed in the sink when I was a child with tubes in my ears. It's easier to do if you tip the head back into the sink, the way they do at the hairdresser's. The other thing to do, of course, is to pack the ears with vaseline and lamb's wool, but I don't recall that we did that for hairwashing, just for swimming. And the good news is that kids just don't need their hair washed as often as adults. Once a week is plenty for most kids (unless they just put their dinner in their hair or something!). Good luck! Dawn

Worried about getting ear tubes

My friend's son has been recommended to have tubes placed in his ear because of continuous ear infections. Although many children who bottle feed suffer from ear infections, this child's situation is worsen because of his allergies to all antibiotics. Unfortunately, there are not many medications he can take that will not cause any negative side affects. My friend is very concerned about this operation. She has been warned of the possible consequences in having this surgery, and is fearful that her son will have some complications. Can parents whose children have gone through this experience share some thoughts. She has consulted several physicians and they all have recommended the surgery, but she is still not comfortable with the idea.
I've known many kids who had tubes including my nephew and namesake. All did fine. If you are concerned or reluctant, however, you might want to consider homeopathic treatment first.

When considering ear tubes for our older child's chronic infections and hearing impairment, my wife and I were reluctant due to the need for anaesthesia. As a last resort we tried homeopathy at the Hahnemann Clinic -- over, I must say, my own grave doubsts and skepticism about its scientific basis (or lack thereof.) We say Christine, a nurse practitioner. My son was treated with a "constitutional" (you take it once or twice), and then with pulsatilla each time he showed symptoms of an ear infection. I was truly impressed by the results and have recommended homeopathy with a trained professional ever since (though by no means to the exclusion of traditional medicine.) On the first occasion we used the treatment my son's ear pain left after 12 hours, rather than the previous 2 or 3 days when on antibiotics. Each time we used pulsatilla after that, in response to earache/infection symptoms, it worked progressively more quickly, until he would go from screaming pain to fine in about an hour. Whatever you decide, I wish you and your child good health.


For the parents of the child recommended ear surgery: Before you decide to go through with the surgery talk with my homeopathic practitioner Christine Ciavarella in Albany. phone 510 524-3117. She has been treating my family including my three children for the last 9 years and I couldn't be happier about it. My youngest two due to her care have never been on antibiotics in their life, not that Christine wouldn't recommend them if needed. We have only treated one ear infection but I know of children who were tremendously helped with allergies, asthma and saved from ear tubes! Please give it a try. It will take some time and money but it is long term health of a little child that will be improved. Good luck and feel free to contact me for more info. or personal experience with homeopathy.
I have not had experience with ear tubes although my nephew (now 14) had them and was Ok with them. I understand your friend's hesitation and I would want to try other methods first. So here goes. Has your friend tried homeopathy? If she is not interested, I would suggest she confer with a nutrition consultant who knows herbs. S/he can offer suggestions appropriate to your friend's lifestyle. Some suggestions that can make a difference NOW are to have her give her child Lactobacillus acidophilus or Bifidus for one month (add powder to liquid). With all those antibiotics, the healthy flora of the intestine needs to be restored. Remove all mucus-forming foods: milk and wheat are the biggest culprits although any food that provokes an immune response (i.e., an allergic response) can produce mucus. When he has another earache/infection, use mullein oil warmed to 99 degrees F and put 1-2 drops in the affected ear. Otherwise, use a warm compress if that feels good to him. Administer alcohol-free tinctures of echinacea and goldenseal every two hours until symptoms subside and 3 doses/day for one week. One last suggestion, have her contact a Jin Shin Jyutsu practitioner. This type body work can be easily shown (it has been taught to Japanese children) to parents and children. My son has had a few ear aches and they last, at most, 1/2 hour or less using Jin Shin. Plus I use fresh squeezed ginger juice with warmed sesame oil in, and a warm compress on the affected ear.
On advice of our extremely thorough, competent pediatrician we had tubes put in my daughter's ears when she was 12 months old. I've read stories of negative experiences on the parents' line, but we had absolutely no problems. She did get fewer ear infections and the tubes stayed in until she was 3 or 4. We never noticed them come out but the doctor observed that they had. The surgery itself was quick and smooth. It's scary to see you child go under general anesthesia and to see her carried away through a set of metal swinging doors that say "Surgery--Medical Staff Only." Nothing changes that, so you might as well prepare yourself. But the one strong piece of advice I have is, if at all possible get the surgery done at Childrens' Hospital. Our daughter actually had three surgeries in her first 18 months, the other two at a regular hospital. I felt enormously better about our Childrens' experience--had complete confidence that the anesthesiologist knew what he was doing with such a small baby and the place is really set up to let parents be with their kids in a warm, comforting way before and after the surgery.
I would greatly recommend tubes for a childs ears especially if they are having repeated ear infections. My son had tubes in his ears when he was three because all of the antibiotics they put him on were not working. He did great with them and has not had another ear infection since. Of course as parents we tend to worry about the procedure as a whole but lay aside the worry and do it for your child because it will save you and the child from many, many nights of pain and fever and trips to the emergency room.
I am not familiar with the exact procedure you asked about, but I would suggest a consultation with an osteopath or cranial sacral bodyworker to see what is going on physically and address the chronic ear infections though direct physical touch. Cranial sacral therapy has helped my son and many of my friends children to either avoid or heal more quickly from ear infections. As a bodyworker myself, I trust hands-on healing work and have seen how powerful a tool it can be. One of my friends' sons had constant ear infections, lots of antiobiotics, etc. Now after a few treatments, he doesn't get them anymore. It's worth a try. I have recently heard of an osteopath in Berkeley, Catherine Henderson, who works with kids. She's booked for months at a time, but I hear she's good. Good Luck.
My son had chronic ear infections from 8 months until he was 3. We tried everything--chiropractic, acupuncture, homeopathy, herbs--as well as antibiotics and an intubation operation. The operation was temporarily successful. For the months the tubes were in place, my son had no infections. The rest of the time, the only thing that kept infection at bay was maintenance doses of antibiotics.

One of the first things I asked his pediatrician was whether allergies might be causing this, and she said it was highly unlikely. Eventually, my chiropractor persuaded me to do weekly elimination trials of common food allergens. As soon as we took wheat out of his diet, his constantly runny nose cleared up. We stopped the antibiotics a few days later, and he did not have another ear infection for 18 months, and has had them rarely ever since (and not for at least 6 years now; he's 12). I think he had a mild wheat allergy, and some kind of congenital narrowing of the ear drainage.

It's worth noting that it took his doctor a year or so to acknowledge that the change in diet may have helped. However, when I took a child development class, I read in my text that allergies are the most common cause of chronic ear infections in children.


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