How We Ended Up With Tubes: Daycare, Flu Season, and One Ear Infection Too Many

Jack started daycare in the middle of flu season.  There really wasn’t any way to avoid it.  If I could go back in time (and our situation was different in January) I would have waited until the Spring or Summer to send him.

After the initial adjustment period, things were going well.  Drop offs were easier, he was happy when we picked him up, and he was napping well at school.  (I cannot say enough about our daycare provider!  Amazing!!) 

Then, the sickness started.  We were frequent flyers at the pediatrician from late January until early April.  He had high fever after high fever, ear infections that wouldn’t go away, Roseola, and finally 3 days of consecutive antibiotic shots to both legs.  (That is what happens when the liquid antibiotics don’t work…) 

It was a very rough 3 months (and I wasn’t feeling awesome either).  We were finally referred to the ENT and learned that Jack was probably more susceptible to ear infections than the average kid.

Q:  What are the risk factors for frequent ear infections?

A:  According to our ENT…

1.  Genetics/Shape of Eustachian Tube
2.  Attends Day Care
3.  Environmental Air Quality (mostly around second hand smoke)

Risk Factor #1:  Both Dave and my little brother, David, had multiple sets of tubes as little kids.  They both had tonsils and adenoids out when they were older as well.  I have only had one ear infection in my entire life.  Since Jack is pretty much Dave’s clone, I’m not surprised his ears take after his daddy.

Risk Factor #2:  Our ENT explained to us that since Jack was in daycare, exposed to more germs with a bad flu season and he already had the #1 risk factor, he would most likely continue to get infections anytime he had a cold or virus.  (everything is connected in your ears, nose, and throat!!)

Our Options:  We were given the option to wait it out for another infection or move forward with tubes.

Decision:  We made the decision to move forward with tubes after consulting both of our families and some friends who had gone through similar experiences with their kiddos.

Q:  So what causes ear infections in the first place?  
A:  Fluid buildup in the middle ear that turns into infection.

Q:  How does the surgery work?
A:  In our experience, Jack went under general anaesthesia at an outpatient center.  The ENT placed a temporary tube (that should fall out within a year) into a small incision in the ear drum.  This is what allows the ear drum to drain and prevents infection.

Q:  What happens after the surgery?

A:  First of all, taking your little one back to surgery is so hard!  The plus side was that with this particular surgery, by the time I had walked back to the waiting room he was done!  The surgery took less than 5 minutes.  He woke up pretty groggy, but within hours was back to his normal self.  We left the hospital shortly after and were instructed to put drops in his ears three times a day for two weeks.  He was playing in the backyard and eating ice cream as soon as we got home.  He did take a very long nap that afternoon.

Jack’s ears drained a little longer than what is typical (about a week) and we had to continue the drops longer since his infection was so bad.

 **I will warn you, if your child ever gets tubes the stuff that comes out of their ears after the surgery is DISGUSTING.

Everything looked great at our 1 week post op appointment.  The doctor sucked out the rest of the drainage that had dried on his eardrum and Jack passed his hearing tests!  His language started exploding shortly after that.  This could have just been his age, or a coincidence, but I have heard that from other people’s experiences as well.

If you have any questions about our experience I would be happy to answer them!


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