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Ear Tubes and Development

 

EAR TUBES AND DEVELOPMENT

 

 

If your child has suffered from recurrent ear infections or an ear infection that just doesn’t go away, you may have considered putting in ear tubes.

 

In the U.S., 600,000 children get ear tubes inserted for relief of ear problems.  In fact, by the time a child enters kindergarten, about seven in every 100 kids will have had ear tubes. 

 

Are they really necessary in all these cases?  A new study suggests, perhaps not.

 

By the time little Vasilios Giasemis had reached his third birthday, he had suffered 9 ear infections; most them were in both ears.  “The pain the fever constant antibiotic use for the first almost three years of his life// I hadn't slept for practically three years and it completed affected his receptive language developmentally,” says Christina Giasemis, Vasilios’ mom.  

 

Doctors treated Vasilio with ear tubes.

 

In the U.S., otitis media, or middle ear infection, is the most commonly diagnosed illness after the common cold.  And the insertion of ear tubes is the most common operation after the newborn period.  The intent is to relieve persistent middle-ear fluid.

 

That fluid accumulates because the angle of the Eustachian tube, a tube that connects the ear to the back of the throat, is straighter, shorter, and floppier than in adults.  As a result, the tube can close more easily, and actually create a vacuum, sucking in fluid and bacteria, and keeping it there.  The fluid can irritate and cause the inflammation of the lining of the middle ear.

 

The answer: .put in an ear tube, which keeps the pressure normalized, and prevents fluid and bacteria from entering the middle ear area.

 

Dr. Richard Rosenfeld, the Director of Pediatric ENT at Long Island College Hospital, says, “For many many parents and many children it really is a wonderful solution to the alternative to the hearing loss and the delays and the antibiotics and the suffering.”

 

Many ear tube placements have occurred because of concern that the often-seen hearing loss with middle ear fluid would have lasting damage on speech, launguage, mental abilities and social development.  But now, the latest research in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that, in otherwise healthy children who have persistent middle ear fluid,  there’s no benefit to immediately  putting in ear tubes to prevent developmental delays.  Even those children who waited up to nine months later to get the tubes placed did just as well, with no signs of developmental delays.

 

“You shouldn’t operate on children without a problem it seems sort of obvious to most people but int he past years ago there was a tendency to operate with kids with ear fliuds simply because it hadn't gone away in a few months,” says Dr. Rosenfeld.

 

Still, ear tubes do have several benefits when used appropriately.  “Children who are suffering because of balance problems, discomfort, frequent antibiotics, frequent ear infections, or children who are at risk for speech language or learning problems such as children with developmental delays,” states Dr. Rosenfeld.

 

Christina says the ear tubes were used appropriately for her son.  “I never have to think about his ears I never have to spend restless nights with him crying in my arms and you cant console a child who has an ear infection.”

 

For more information, go to:

 

http://www.entnet.org/healthinfo/ears/Ear-Tubes.cfm

 

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