Ear Infections and PE Tube Placement
Persistent middle ear effusions, recurrent ear infections, and ear infections which are unresponsive to oral antibiotics, are common conditions affecting young children. At any given time approximately 20% of school aged children will have middle ear effusions. By 6 years of age 40% of children will have experienced 3 or more ear infections. Each year approximately 667,000 children under the age of 15 will have tympanostomy (or pressure equalization) tubes placed in their ears. By the age of 3, one in 15 children will have had PE tubes placed.
PE tubes are usually indicated if ear infections recur frequently, or if fluid in the middle ear fails to clear. Hearing loss and ineffective oral antibiotics (or troublesome reactions to antibiotics) are also reasons one would consider placement of PE tubes. These tubes have been shown to reduce the presence of effusions by 32% during their first year, and they improve hearing levels between 5-12 dB. Side effects include persistent ear drum perforations after extrusion of the tubes (in about 2% of patients) as well as intermittent drainage from the tubes (in about 20% of patients). Risks of anesthesia are minimal at between 1:10,000 and 1:45,000 patients.
If your child suffers from frequent ear infections, please call your pediatrician or contact us to request an appointment.