Chronic otitis media and tube placement - anyone have personal experience with this?

  1. Hi

    My youngest son is almost 2 and has had chronic ear infections. The pediatrician has been reluctant to refer to ENT for ear tubes, he wanted to wait until he is 2 to see if the infections resolved as he grew. So far they haven't. My son is only saying 2 words, hi and bye, and he should be saying more by now. Sometmes he seems not to hear when we call his name, but it's hard to say if he's just very engrossed in the toy he is playing with. Doc is referring for audiology testing, and dependent on the results of that test, may refer for tube placement.

    I have been researching material on the surgery (myringotomy), and some material has been for it and some against it. I am just wondering if anyone has a child who had tubes, and what the outcome was. Or if anyone has a child that was delayed in speech due to ear infections, but chose not to have the tubes.

    I won't base my decision on others experiences, but I am interested in knowing outcomes on either side from someone who has been through it. Most of the material I've found talks about the procedure and whether it is successful, but does not discuss the effects on the child.

    If anyone has any good references to direct me to, i'd really appreciate it.
    •  
  2. 20 Comments

  3. by   NurseDennie
    Hi - I have experience with my older daughter. She had a lot of ear infections when she was young, and her pediatrician didn't want to refer her to an ENT, either. One day we were talking, and it finally dawned on me -- This kid is lip-reading, not hearing me.

    So I self-referred to an ENT. He put the tubes in and I have to say that they add a lot of hassle to taking care of the kid. She was a swimmer, and she had to have ear plugs and a swim cap, and of course the plugs for the tubby time. I used the wax ear plugs, and once the teacher thought she had lice because she had little pieces of wax stuck to the hair around her ears. Oh well.

    But I wish I'd taken her to the ENT much, MUCH earlier. She was pretty much deaf at the time she was supposed to be building her verbal and conversational skills. She's in her 20's now, and if things she hears don't make sense, sometimes she doesn't realize it!

    It turns out that there was something structurally wrong with her ears - and she still has hearing loss not related to nerve damage. She's had to have surgery on both ears, and that's helped, but not 100%. She can't stand to wear her hearing aid, because it makes things too loud and blaring. She was hard of hearing for so long, that's what is normal to her. We only bought her one hearing aid, because we got it when they operated on the left ear and her ear canal was big enough for a hearing aid and since there wasn't nerve damage, she would be a good candidate for the hearing aid. She hated the hearing aid so much we didn't spend the HUGE bucks for another one.

    So.... My story probably isn't much help for you. I think that if we'd gone to the ENT earlier, she'd still be as hard of hearing, but maybe having help sooner would have allowed her to tolerate the hearing aids and understand more of what's going on around her. .

    Hope things turn out well for you and your small person.

    Love

    Dennie
  4. by   BeachNurse
    My son had chronic ear infections from the time he was six months old until about age 6. He had several sets of ear tubes (lost count). The ear tubes did reduce the number of infections, but after they worked their way out, he had to have them reinserted. They last longer in some children than others...I think the longest one pair lasted was one year. Even with prompt treatment of infections and the ear tubes (never perfed), he ended up with lots of scarring and "holes" in his TM's. He was having some mild hearing loss, and at age 7, he had to have surgery (right myringoplasty and left tympanoplasty). He has only had one ear infection in the last 2 years and his hearing is normal. Those ears drove us CRAZY!!! Unfortunately, I think the ear tubes are inevitable if the infections are frequent and are resistant to the common antibiotics. Good Luck!
  5. by   CountrifiedRN
    NurseDennie and BeachNurse, thank you for sharing your stories with me. Just wondering, how old were your children when they got the tubes? What was the surgery like for them? Were they in pain afterwards, and how long did it take for them to feel better?

    I worry because my son is too young to understand, and also because of the risk of general anesthesia at his age. But at the same time, I don't want him to have developmental problems and possible ear damage from the infections.

    The antibiotics that we have to use are limited because my son has developed allergies to both PCN and cephalosporins. So lately we've been using erythromycin forms of antibiotics. They clear up the infection while he is taking them, but 2 weeks after he stops, the infection comes back.

    I'm glad to hear that both of the kids are doing well now. It must have been hard to go through either situation.
  6. by   Robin61970
    My daughter had chronic ear infections and we had tubes put in when she was around 14 months......she didn't babble or talk much at all until after those tubes......after she got them she started talking and has not shut up since(she is 3 1/2) The ENT said that it was like everything she heard was underwater and she could not speak because she didn't hear properly.....she has very few ear infections now and didn't lose any of her hearing because of the infections. The surgery was fairly easy for her.....I think it was a good decision, and i would do it again if I needed to...
  7. by   WalMart_ADN
    i had tubes in my ears when i was much younger. i remember my parents always yelling at me because they thought i was ignoring them, when in reality i couldn't hear. after many trips to the ENT and many pink bottles of amoxicillion, I had the tubes in my ears. I don't remember it being painful at all...and right now i have perfect hearing, and I also haven't had a single earache in over 10 years.
  8. by   live4today
    Two out of three of my children had to have tubes placed in their ears as toddlers -- not once, but several times because the tubes would come out before they were ready to come out. They were both between one and two when the tubes were put in. They had to wear ear plugs whenever they went swimming, got their hair shampooed, or took a bath. I used the Max wax earplugs.

    Having those tubes placed in their ears was the best thing I could have agreed to.

    My youngest daughter's oldest child is now seven years old, and he too has gone through having tubes placed in his ears a couple of times. The doctor waited too long -IMO- to place his tubes because when he was two, he was not as verbal as other two year olds, and my daughter noticed that he didn't seem to hear them speaking to him. After the tubes were placed, the speech therapist worked with him on a regular basis for awhile, and today he is sooooo much better for having had the tubes and the speech therapy done. He still has a slight problem, however, but nothing that interferes with his learning as he is a very bright student in school.

    It seems to me that the sooner you have the tube placement done, the better off for your child. I think insurance and HMOs have a lot to do with the delay tactics doctors are using today in health care, not because they don't think the kid needs the tubes NOW. Don't let them do this to you. ACT on the problem, be assertive with those docs, and tell them you want ENT consultation or you'll get your own, and then tell that ENT no messing around any longer, to tell you what the real deal is. Best of everything to you!
  9. by   Marijke
    All my life I have been suffering with ear infections, and I still get them if I am not carefull. I now immediately grab a nasal decongestant spray at the first sign of a cold, it takes the swelling away and helps my narrow eustachian tube to decompress my middle ear.
    I have had several surgeries, but the tubes where the most effective and not painfull at all (at least if you compare it with an ear infection).
    I don't know if anybody around the child smokes, but that should stop, it is proven to cause ear infections.
    Also keep the child away from harsh chemicals, like bleach, ammonia, paint, solvents and a lot of other products. These things can cause swelling of the mucous membranes, and as a result cause pressure building in the middle ear, which can lead to an ear infection.
    Have you also looked into any possible food allergies? I understand milk can be a problem, this usually is a passing problem and can be solved by withholding milk from their diet for a year or so and gradually reintroducing it (make sure there is enough calcium in the diet however when you do this).
    I hope this will help.

    Marijke
  10. by   CountrifiedRN
    Thank you everyone for your input. Here is an update.

    About a week or so ago, my son was back in the docs office with his third ear infection this year. They worked us in, so we saw a different doc, and when I asked about a referral to ENT he readily agreed. He was in favor of putting tubes in early, especially since my son is alergic to the most commonly used meds. He also referred for speech therapy, since my son is not talking yet.

    He prescribed pediazole, and that night my son had a reaction to it. So the next morning, after speaking with the nurse, the doc got my son an appt with the ENT that day! So now he is scheduled for ear tubes, and possible adenoidectomy, at the end of this week. After speaking with the ENT, I feel very confident that this will really help him, if the tubes stay in. I'm praying that everything goes well.
  11. by   live4today
    RN2bNC, know that my prayers remain with your son and you through this time of dealing with his ear difficulties. From my own children's experience with having tubes placed in their ears when they were small, it was all worth the procedure. They are all doing fine today! Keep us posted on his progress post-operatively.
  12. by   angelina28
    My daughter also had chronic ear infections. When we got a referal to dr for tubes. It was funny because everytime we finsished a antibiotic she had another this went on for a yr. She only got rid of infection while she was on medicine. Two day's later we had the infection all over again. So we decided to do the tubes but what turned out to be ear infections was actually Tonsils. Her tonsil were so infected that Dr looked at me and at that time she wasn't even 2 she was only 20 months. They don't take tonsils out till they are 2 plus. He looked at her on a monday and he took them out on wensday. Since they have been removed we haven't had another ear infection which has been nice. Actually the Dr. I saw doesn't really beleive in them. He believes it's a temp fix. But sure glad they figured out what was wrong. I hope they figure out something for your child.. I understand how it feel's

    Tammy
  13. by   meribelle
    I think the tubes are wonderful ! In our case at least.

    2 of my 3 sons had tubes placed when they were toddlers and whalla, no more ear infections, eventually they worked their way out of the ears with no problems afterwords. I really don't know of any age limit, I think it's according to how many infections the child has had, recurrent. In our cases, I'm glad that we didn't wait. Ear tubes are very common in our area.

    Good Luck
  14. by   CountrifiedRN
    Thanks, everyone, for your support. And thank you Renee for your prayers. Although I know that this procedure is the best thing to do at this point, I can't help but feel a little nervous. The nervousness has more to do with him going under general anesthesia than with the tube placement. Sometimes it can be a curse to have a little bit of medical background, you know all the things that can go wrong, and even if those occurrances are rare, they stand out in your mind.

    I am glad to know that many others have had the same procedure and have had good results.

close