Are you or your child struggling with a recurrent ear infection? Are you tired of having to deal with sleep issues, ear pain, fever, and irritability due to your common ear infections? If you are reading today’s article, the chances are that your answers to the previous questions are yes and that you are most likely interested in getting an ear tube surgery done.
You probably have heard that with the help of an ear tube surgery you will be free from any recurrent ear infections for life. So today, together we will explore the purposes of an ear tube surgery, how it is being performed, and most importantly – what to expect after an ear tube surgery in adults!
What Are The Purposes Of Ear Tube Surgery?
Ear tube surgery also referred to as myringotomy, is a surgical procedure during which tiny tubes, known as tympanostomy tubes or grommets, are placed inside the eardrum. An ear tube surgery is recommended in any case of recurrent ear infections. In most cases, ear tube surgery is being performed on children, since they are struggling with ear infections more commonly than adults.
In fact, this is considered to be the most common surgery being performed among children. Ear infections do go away on their own or with the help of antibiotics being used, however, sometimes they are occurring more commonly than we would want them to and this asks for a proper ear tube surgery to be performed. The ear tube surgery actually reduces the risk of hearing loss, and speech development issues within children.
Frequent ear infections, fluid build-up in the ear, auditory tube dysfunction, and retracted eardrums are the most common reasons for an ear tube surgery to be performed within adults. As a part of the procedure, the adenoids, which are the glands that are located above the roof of the mouth and behind your nose, can be removed as well. By preventing the adenoids, surgeons reduce the likelihood that you will need another ear tube surgery to be performed in the near future.
[Read – Ear Checkup Procedure]
Is The Ear Tube Surgery Safe?
The ear tube surgery is considered to be generally safe, posing minimal risks only. This is an outpatient procedure, which means that after the procedure has been successfully completed, patients are free to go home. The procedure usually takes around 15 minutes, and it can be done while the patient is under general or local anesthesia.
How Is The Ear Tube Surgery Being Performed?
After the surgeon has applied either general or local anesthesia, the next step requires making a small hole in your eardrum using a laser or a scalpel. Using a small vacuum, the surgeon cleans the area, removing any present fluid and puff from the ear. What follows next is inserting the actual synthetic tube into the hole. The tubes will help reduce any pressure, drain any build-up fluid from inside the ear, and make it easier for antibiotic drops to be applied when needed. And just like that, without any major complications, your surgery is done!
What To Expect After An Ear Tube Surgery In Adults?
Although, as we mentioned earlier, the ear tube surgery is considered to be generally safe, there are some complications that are unlikely to happen, but we still consider that you should know about them.
Some of the following complications after an ear tube surgery can be experienced
1. Muffled Hearing After The Ear Tube Surgery
The muffled hearing is a common side-effect of the middle ear infection itself. The hearing is muffled because there is fluid build-up due to either inflammation or swelling of the middle ear and eardrum. It might take a few days for the inserted ear tube to drain the fluid so that the muffled hearing would finally go away. Even if you did not struggle with a muffled hearing before the surgery itself, it is very common to deal with it when it is done.
2. Chronic Ear Drainage
Normally, after the tube has been inserted, it takes two days maximum in order for any excess fluid to be drained. However, sometimes, as a complication from the surgery, the patient can deal with chronic ear drainage that lasts more than four days.
3. An Ear Infection
Unfortunately, sometimes even when the ear tubes have been properly inserted, ear infections can continue to occur. However, this is a complication that is more commonly noticed to develop within children rather than adults, since it is the children’s eat tubes that need to be replaced from time to time. That is usually when ear infections develop the most.
4. Ears Feeling Clogged After The Tubes Are Placed
This is probably the most common complication of them all. After the ear tubes have been inserted, the patient can feel as if his/her ears are clogged. This complication is temporary, and it is expected to go away in the next following days. The feeling is caused by the sole presence of the ear tubes.
5. Scarring Of The Eardrums
During the procedure itself, scarring of the eardrums, but also perforation, can be caused. These complications can also occur after the ear tubes come out within children. The scarring and the perforation of the eardrums can be linked to more serious complications.
6. Hearing Loss
Due to the previously mentioned scarring and perforation of the eardrums, a small hearing loss can develop as a common complication as well. However, if the surgery is performed carefully, this complication can be easily avoided.
7. Nausea Due To The Use Of General Anesthesia
If your surgeon decides to use general anesthesia, although that is highly unlikely to happen since local anesthesia is more commonly being used for an ear tube surgery within adults, you can expect to feel nauseated. You will probably vomit a few times as well, but it is necessary to say that everything is under control.
Since you are most likely to go home the very same day after the surgery, the doctor will give you a few recommendations and tips. He/she will probably prescribe some ear drops and/or antibiotics to prevent the previously mentioned complications.
During activities such as running, swimming, and bathing, your ears need to be protected by using earplugs in the first couple of days. Do keep a small piece of cotton inside the ear to absorb any discharge, bloody or yellow colored that might happen after the surgery. Do check for any of the previously mentioned complications and report their presence to your doctor as soon as possible.
It takes only around 15 minutes for you to say goodbye to those annoying ear infection symptoms and only a few small tubes for your goals to be met. Today, we are lucky having to represent what an ear tube surgery does for you and what to expect after an ear tube surgery in adults. We only hope that our article has helped you to make the step forward that means getting rid of any recurrent ear infections!
Doctor, author and fitness enthusiast, Ahmed Zayed, MD, is a surgery resident with a passion for helping people live a happy healthy life. He is the author of numerous health-related books and contributor to several medicine, health and wellbeing websites.