Ear Tube Specialist in Federal Way, WA
Ear tubes are small devices commonly used to treat chronic ear infections in young children, but may also be used to address the same issues in full-grown adults. These tubes are typically comprised of metal or plastic materials and are placed by Surgical Associates Northwest during a routine surgical procedure.
Typically, ear tubes will remain in place for 6-18 months. These tubes may need to be removed during another procedure, or replacement ear tubes may need to be continually placed for ongoing treatment of various ear complications and conditions.
Common Uses for Ear Tubes
As mentioned, ear tubes can be an excellent solution for those that suffer from frequent ear infections. These tubes are also quite effective at relieving other conditions and complications of the ear, including:
- Fluid buildup and drainage
- Painful air pressure imbalances (barotrauma)
- A reaction to seasonal allergies
- Hearing difficulties
- Speech delays
- Cleft palate
- Malformation of the eardrum or Eustachian tube
Hearing and speech may easily be affected as a result of an issue within the ear. If the individual is unable to process speech from others due to fluid or pressure in the ear, it can result in developmental delays in kids, or symptoms that may mimic hearing loss. For this reason, it is important to contact an ENT specialist in Federal Way right away if you notice any strange occurrences that relate to your or your child’s hearing abilities.
What to Expect from Surgery
Patients will be prepped for the placement of ear tubes using general anesthesia so that they remain comfortably asleep during the entire procedure, which typically lasts for only 15 minutes. During surgery, your doctor will make a very small incision in the eardrum. At this point, any trapped fluid behind the eardrum will be gently suctioned out and removed, and then the ear tubes will be carefully placed between the inner and outer ear structures.
Once the procedure is complete, patients will be relocated to a private room in our facility to rest before they wake up from the anesthetic. It is common for there to be mild pain or irritation within the first 1-2 days following ear tube placement, though these symptoms should not be severe and will normally dissipate quite quickly. Your doctor can also recommend over-the-counter pain relievers or anti-inflammatories that can help to manage any discomfort during this time.
Potential Risks and Complications
As with any type of surgical procedure, there are a limited number of risks associated with implementing ear tubes. While the chance of encountering any one of these side effects is considerably low, patients should still be made aware that the placement of their ear tubes may cause:
- Scarring of the eardrum
- Blockages forming within the ear tubes
- Bodily rejection of the ear tubes
- Failure to resolve ear infections
- Hearing impairment
- Side effects from anesthesia
Many parents and patients worry about the possibility that the ear tubes will fall out after surgery. In a large number of cases, this is actually a desired result, as the ear tubes are only meant to remain in place temporarily. Tubes that are specially designed to stay in the ear for longer stretches of time usually require a follow-up procedure to have them manually removed by your doctor, or to be replaced with new tubes if necessary. Ideally, the opening created by the tubes will gradually close on its own.
Questions to Ask Your Doctor Before Surgery
Before undergoing surgery to place ear tubes, be sure to consult with your ENT specialist to be fully informed about the procedure, how to prepare, and what to expect after surgery. It is important that the physician receives a comprehensive list of all current medications taken by the patient, and that their personal, as well as family health history, be thoroughly reviewed to identify any medical conditions that may affect the success of the ear tubes.
Follow-up appointments will be scheduled so that your doctor has the chance to review how well the patient’s ear tubes are working to relieve painful symptoms and chronic complications, though patients are encouraged to contact Surgical Associates Northwest if they begin to experience any abnormal side effects that they feel are cause for concern. Specifically, individuals should call to schedule an appointment immediately if they notice a yellow, brown, or bloody discharge from the ear shortly after ear tube placement surgery. Persistent pain, hearing problems, and trouble with balance are other common signs that a problem may be present.