When symptoms of hearing loss persist, particularly at a time when a child is learning to speak, medical evaluation and treatment are recommended. Hearing loss is the single most important cause of a child having delayed speech.
To improve eustachian tube function, a variety of medication may be used. Antibiotics, decongestants and nasal sprays (if nasal allergy co-exists) are the more common ones. If this fails, surgical options will then be explored. For children, the operations performed are Myringotomy & Tube insertion (M&T) with or without adenoidectomy.
M & T is done under general anaesthesia as a day surgery. This simple procedure generally takes about 15 minutes and involves making a cut on the ear drum and placing a tiny ventilation tube through it. This then allows ventilation of the middle ear. Possible admission to the hospital is required only when adenoidectomy is performed at the same setting. Your child may be required to fast overnight (no food or drink after 12 midnight) before the operation. For a younger child, a shorter period of fasting might be sufficient, depending on the anaesthetist’s assessment.
The doctor should be informed if your child has fever and cough just before the surgery. The surgery might be postponed if the child is found to be unfit for surgery. If the child has any history/family history of bleeding disorder or any previous problems with anaesthesia, it should be brought to the doctor’s attention.
The child might still be sleepy and have vomiting from the effects of general anaesthesia. After a few hours, he/she will be allowed to drink water. Eating will resume depending on the child’s recovery. An immediate improvement in hearing should follow after surgery.
There is no dietary restriction and normal diet and oral hygiene should resume.
We would like to review your child 2-4 weeks after the surgery. Do keep your appointment with the doctor as the follow-up care is important to ascertain extrusion of the tube and if there is recurrence of middle ear fluid.
The ventilation tubes placed through the eardrum will be automatically expelled in 6-18 months. This might need removal by the doctor from the ear canal in the clinic during a follow-up visit.
If the child experiences purulent ear discharge or pain after the operation, please do give our clinic a call for an early consultation. This may occur when the child has an upper respiratory tract infection sometime after surgery and with a patent and functioning grommet tube.
Keep the ears dry as water in the middle ear increases the chance of infection. Do not allow shower spray to be directed into the ears. Older children will still be able to swim but this should be done while wearing good ear plugs. Placing of the head under water is to be avoided. Diving or swimming should be avoided in children below age 6. In the event of an ear infection, where there is pus discharging from the ears, medical opinion should be sought.
Usually post-operative reviews in 1 month is given. Please keep your appointment as follow-up care is important to ascertain extrusion of the tube and if there is a recurrence of middle ear fluid.