A myringotomy is a surgical procedure wherein a small incision is made in the eardrum in order to help relieve pressure caused by liquid buildup. This is commonly referred to as “getting the tubes.” Children who have had myringotomies often suffer from painful earaches – this the symptom that often suggests the need for the surgery in the first place.
This ear surgery is a game-changer for so many children. Constant water in the ear diminishes the ability of kids to hear well. (It also makes parents like me feel terrible in situations where a teacher happily calls to let me know my son reports being able to do things in school after telling her, “Now I can hear!”)
When our middle son received his tubes, our oldest was confused. He leaned over his baby brother looking for the visible tubes of his imagination, which must have been substantial. He looked both surprised and relieved that the tubes were small, invisible, and effective. But for children who have had a routine myringotomy, swimming season still presents a number of challenges. Give InKind spoke to Dr. Michael Kortbus whose specialty is Otolaryngology (ENT). He offered some tips on swimming season and ear tubes.
Here are 5 things to consider:
- Recent research suggests that earplugs may not be necessary after a myringotomy. Until recently, the use of earplugs was standard procedure, but now it can be considered on a case-by-case basis. Parents should certainly ask this question of their pediatric ENT.
- If your ENT does recommend water precautions, get your child fitted for the correct size. Ear plugs should be specifically designed for a small ear, as pro plugs.
- Avoid all putty style plugs since they can get lodged in the ear and/or can pull out the ear tube.
- Avoid wax removal drops and work closely with a doctor or a specialized PA in selecting homeopathic ear care products. Avoid candling.
- Signs of ear infection in children with tubes include (but are not limited to) cloudy ear discharge, pain, fever and foul smell coming from the ear. In consultation with a doctor, the use of pediatric pain relievers may help.
When my own son went through a period of being frightened to swim because of his ears, we worked to show him he could still swim safely. We got him some “special” gear “just for him,” like this ear band which made him feel more confident about getting in the water. If your child is in a similar position, throw in some goggles, a celebratory diving torpedo, and some flippers – and it’s a pool and beach a-go-go.
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