Contributed by Patricia Iven, MHS, PA-C
As a pediatric Physician Assistant, and a mom, I was tickled to see Sprouts post about middle ear fluid and how it can affect speech development. This is one of the most common issues I see (especially in the winter) in my 3-year-old and younger patients. I’ve also been through it as a mom of a now 2-year-old. My daughter had her first set of tubes at 10 months old after several months of chronic ear fluid and recurrent infections. Momma was exhausted after sleepless nights in my previously-amazing sleeper. Sweet girl was crankier and started screaming instead of using her small set of words she had already developed. She also was having balance issues and was struggling to pull up and stand. Not to mention we had been through 5 rounds of antibiotics without a dent in the number of infections. When her use of words declined, I knew it was time. Surgery is scary for any parent; I was nervous (the downside of my job is my mind goes to dark places when something is wrong with my kid) but I knew she was in the most capable hands with our ENT. After they rolled her back, about 12 minutes later our ENT came in and said, “All done! And oh my goodness she had so much pus in those poor little ears.” My momma’s heart was so happy that we had made the right choice for our daughter.
That afternoon, she started pulling up without a hitch. Within a week the screaming had stopped and she had 3 new words. She slept better that very night. I’ve heard these stories over and over from my patients whom I’ve sent for tubes. When my daughter started exhibiting similar symptoms again a year later after her tubes had fallen out, a trip back to ENT showed her hearing was being affected by fluid accumulating in the middle ear. I didn’t hesitate to choose a date for her second set of tubes to be placed. Most kids will outgrow the need for tubes as they grow and their Eustachian tubes enlarge and start to tilt downward instead of being horizontal. I’m hoping this will be our last set!
When a friend told me recently she thought they were headed down the road of tubes, my reply was:
“Girl, as Nike says, just do it. We are on set #2. Sleeping, eating, speech, and balance all improved drastically within days of getting them. The procedure took about 7 minutes and by the next day she was back to normal.”
Talk to your pediatrician to make the best decision for your child.