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Ear Tube Surgery in Children: What to Expect at Home

Ear tube placement

Your Child's Recovery

Most children have little pain after ear tube placement and usually recover quickly.

Your child will feel tired for a day. But your child should be able to go back to school or daycare the day after surgery. Your child may want your attention more for the first few days after surgery.

Your child will need to see the doctor regularly to make sure the tubes are working. The doctor also will check your child's hearing.

The tubes usually stay in for 6 to 12 months and fall out on their own as the child grows.

This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for your child to recover. But each child recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to help your child get better as quickly as possible.

How can you care for your child at home?

Activity

  • Your child may want to spend the rest of the day in bed. When your child is ready, your child can begin playing again.
  • Your child will probably be able to go back to school or daycare on the day after surgery.
  • Ask your doctor if your child needs to take extra care to keep water from getting in the ears when bathing or swimming. Your child may need to wear earplugs. Check with your doctor to find out what is recommended for your child.

Medicines

  • Your doctor will tell you if and when your child can restart any medicines. The doctor will also give you instructions about your child taking any new medicines.
  • Ask your doctor if you can give your child acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) for pain. Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • If the doctor prescribed antibiotics for your child, give them as directed. Do not stop giving them just because your child feels better. Your child needs to take the full course of antibiotics.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has pain that does not get better after taking pain medicine.
  • Your child has signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Pus draining from the ear.
    • A fever.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • Your child has new or worse drainage from the ear.
  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.