20 answers

Ear Tube Removal

My daughter has had tubes in her ears for 2 years now (she got them at 10 months old and they show no signs of falling out any time soon). She visited the ENT a couple of weeks ago and we were told the right tube has a bit of tissue that is adhering to it. The original plan was to go back in June and take the tubes out. The point of waiting was to see how much they drain over this allergy season to see if we need to replace them with a new set or not.

This week, she's had tons of problems with them. She keeps saying they itch and hurt. I don't know if maybe they are blocked and can't drain, or if the right one with adhesions is starting to hurt, which the ENT warned us it might. She is going back to the ENT next Thursday to discuss again taking them out.

My question is for anyone that's had to have the tubes removed when they did not fall out on their own. Did you have them taken out in the dr office, or have your kiddo put back under? Our ENT says it is not a comfortable procedure to have them taken out, but she always leaves it up to the parents since it's such a quick procedure. I'm torn with this one - it's quick, but I know it would be more painful than normal since the right one has adhesions. But, it's also risky everytime they go under.

Any experiences you can share will be appreciated! Thanks!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Okay, we had our appointment with the ENT yesterday and it went GREAT! She was actually able to get the right tube out in the office. Natalie was perfect - I promised her ice cream if she laid still and it did the trick! We did not use the "papoose" and she only cried for about a half a second afterwards, then she was fine. Natalie did say that she wanted to wait to do the other ear (I'll come back later, she says) which the ENT said was normal. Apparently, when they do it in the office, it's common to do them on separate days. So, our next appointment is in a month to get the other one out and make sure the first hole is starting to close on it's own. We got the one out that had the adhesions, so I'm sure the second one will be even easier! Natalie had zero after-effects from it - we had our ice cream and went to the park. She did not spend all afternoon with her finger in her ear for the first time in several weeks. My recommendation to all you mommas in the same situation - at least try it in the office if you can. Don't push it if your kiddo won't sit still, but it honestly takes 2 seconds and didn't appear to be uncomfortable for Natalie at all. Thanks for all of your advise!

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My son who is now 26 years old had a terrible time from infancy to about 3 years old. He had 3 sets of tubes put in his ears. The first set was at 7 months old; they fell out. The second set was at 18 months, he pulled them out in a ball of wax. The third time at 3 years old; they were removed by the doctor in the doctor's office with no problems at all. He finally stopped having ear infections at that time.

I definitely recommend letting them remove them now. My daughter, now 10, had tubes in at 4 and when the right one adhered and eventually fell out, she was left with a torn eardrum and decreased hearing in that ear. I wish I had gotten them removed before that happened. The itching and pain were symptoms of the tubes beginning to fall out.

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2 of my children have had 2 sets of tubes and I was never told they needed to be removed...they always said they will fall out on their own. And they did each time. One ENT during a regular check up said a tube was laying in my daughter's ear canal...he was able to pull it out with a special tool. My daugther said it tickled but definitely no pain. I think that is different than what you are talking about.

We've had 4 ENTs between Connecticut and Dallas and I have never heard of that.

My daughter had tubes placed in both ears at the age of 3. By the age of 7 they were both still in place and one of the two had the same scenario...tissue attached.
During the 4 year stint of having them, one blocked with "gunk" and had to be professionally cleaned out in the office. Uncomfortable but not painful. And the amount of said "gunk" that was removed was mind boggling. The tubes were doing their job, she simply has oddly shaped canals that retained wax/debris. Her ear began to seep and run, hence I took her in and once cleaned out, all was good again.

I LOVE our ENT and she took my daughters tubes out in the office without going under sedation and without gas. She did place numbing drops in her ears and left us in the office for a good 15 minutes to do their job before removing them.
One was painless and the other hurt. She cried for a few minutes and was appeased with the expectation of a milk shake once we left the doctors office. Afterward, no pain, all done and she was fine. A year later we have not had to replace the tubes.
Hope this helps. If not, email me for any additional questions I will try to answer if I can.

Fortunately for us, both sets of my son's tubes fell out on their own. However, I would think that the removal would be no more uncomfortable and/or painful than the surgery to inplant the tubs. Probably much less painful/uncomfortable. I say this because incisions were made in the ears to place the tubes and the right one will need a small incision to remove it, in your daughter's case. Just remember that there will be holes in the drums and you will need to treat the ears as if they still had tubes and not let any water get in them.

Now, they could be itching and hurting because they are trying to come out. My son said his ears felt weird and "sort of" hurt when his second set of tubes came out. Within a couple of days they both came out. Unfortunately for him, he still has ear troubles and will need a second eardrum replacement surgery.

I hope everything works out well and all the ear trouble is behind yall. Ear infections are the pits. After 10 years of dealing with them, I hate them worse than any other "normal or routine" childhood ailment.

Good luck to you both.

It's funny you mentionhed this this week. We were in the exact same situation up until last week. My son also had his tubes "stuck" in the very delicate tissue. He also complained constantly of his ears hurting. His ped told us that he could remove them but since they were in the delicate tissue it would smart. He said it would be like someone ripping tape off your arm inside your ears. He sent us to the ENT whom gave us some ear drops to dissolve the wax around it which would allow it to work itself out easier. Once I started using the ear drops he actually stopped complaining of his ears hurting. They told me to come back after his 3 year well check up to see how they were doing (which was Tues) and he actually was able to just reach in there and pull them out-and my son let him (that's the strange part-he can't sit still for nothing).
So,I would ask your ENT about the ear drops-to see if it would help your baby girl. It really seemed to help my son with the itching/pain. Good luck and let us know what yall come up with.


One of my sons had tubes 4 times....They would fall out and the ear infections started again...His 4th time they put 't' tubes in and they don't fall out. We then had to remove them after a couple of years and yes, we did put him 'under' again. It's very scary, but he did fine. If you leave the tubes in too long, it can creat a permanent hole. I had a wonderful ENT that I trusted so much...If you like your ENT, trust what he says...Ask him, 'If this was your son, what would you do?'

Hope that helps...

My daughter had to have her tubes surgically removed. We didn't get the option of having it done in the office. I don't know if that is because we weren't sure if she needed to have another set put in or what? I guess I'm not much help, but I think if it is going to be pretty uncomfortable then I would go ahead and have it done at the hospital where she can be completely under. Just my thought.

As someone who had tubes in childhood, I actually had my tubes removed in the Dr.'s office because my mom faced the same situation. She was uneasy about having me put under for something that was only going to take a couple mins. to do. And the situation was the same, where I had tissue that had grown over the tube. To make a long story short, my mom decided to have my tubes removed in the office, and let me tell you, the one that had tissue around it was extremely painful when it was removed, because not only was the tube removed, but the tissue was torn out too. I just remember feeling mad at the Dr. and my mom because it really hurt. It is a tough call, but I would see if a light sedation can be done, or numbing drops can be placed in the child's ears. I personally would not do it in the office if there is nothing that can be provided to lessen the pain or discomfort. I have also had to put both of my boys under(4 & 8) for different procedures when they were younger and that was hard so I understand the apprehension with that. As their mother, I guess just try to make the best decision you can, and realized you are doing your best.

S. - I am a RN and work in the operating room. For tubes or tube removal they do put the child to sleep but do not put a breathing tube in; they go to sleep with gas and breath that for a few minutes while the ENT works then the gas is stopped and they give oxygen to clear out the gasses and they wake up - so basically it is like a deep sedation and not as dangerous as having a breathing tube inserted. Hope this helps. I am a child that had tubes in my ears like 4 or 5 times.

Hi S.

My son (now 17) had tubes put in at 5 months and they didn't fall out either. He had them removed at 2 1/2 yrs in the ear doc's office. As I recall it was tramatic. He had a shot first to make him sleepy and calm and then they took him back without me and I could hear him screaming. He was not a happy camper but he was always a bit dramatic. All in all, as a former Respitory Therapist, I would say even though it was tramatic for an anxious mom/child it is SO much safer than being put to sleep for a very quick proceedure I would have it done in the office. Just be prepared with lots of loving for her and support for you if you can get it.

please let me know what info...I think that I will be in the same boat. Good Luck though.

Is there a way to do something like laughing gas or some other light sedation that will at least help with her being still etc?? I understand the fear of sedation, but you also dont want them to mess anything up because she is screaming and squirming around. But it seems like my kids have had a light sedation for their tubes that made them at least relax, before they were put under anesthesia. I am sure this is a tough call, but in my mind, do what you would want if you had to have the procedure done. HTH ~A.~

hey sugar , my daughter has had tubes twice and the last one's did ok but she started having issues with itching aswell then she started having a awlfull smell I took her to 2 differnt ent's because I wanted to know she was at the best. The second one was dr michael Bryan and he was great !
he saw her tubes and said u know I have to get them old tubes out! I said ok and mined u she was
having so much pain she couldn't even sleep at night he just told to be really still and said he ok breath in and out and it was out just like that. He is in southlake and he saved my Babis hearing!
she is great now and that was about 2 years and she is able to swim and play and hasn't had an ear
problem since that she is nine and was born at 26-27 weeks she was my miricle and blessing. Hope I helped but he is greet and u may give him a try. Have a great weekend and let me know if u need anything ok thanks T.. Email is ____@____.com

Maybe conscious sedation if they do not have to be replaced? Doctors will usually have their own procedures they follow.
We had the opposite problem: they would fall out in about 6-8 months, and then have to be replaced. We gave up when things got real serious, and had the adenoids and tonsils removed. No other problems ever again.

I definitely recommend letting them remove them now. My daughter, now 10, had tubes in at 4 and when the right one adhered and eventually fell out, she was left with a torn eardrum and decreased hearing in that ear. I wish I had gotten them removed before that happened. The itching and pain were symptoms of the tubes beginning to fall out.

I had tubes put in my ears when I was 2. One fell out naturally and the other they didn't take out until I was 13! I don't remember it hurting at all- the doctor put some instrument in my ear and pulled it out right in the doctors office. I don't know if they are using any different types of tubes- but I can't imagine that they would have gotten worse over the years.

I do have scar tissue on my ear drums- but the drs say it is from all the ear infections I had before the tubes. I don't have any permanent holes, and absolutely no hearing loss (in fact I can hear way outside the range on high pitch sounds). I think it depends on the child and the ear- but the tube may not need to come out yet. You may be able to wait until she is a little older, then she can keep still in the office.

My son who is now 26 years old had a terrible time from infancy to about 3 years old. He had 3 sets of tubes put in his ears. The first set was at 7 months old; they fell out. The second set was at 18 months, he pulled them out in a ball of wax. The third time at 3 years old; they were removed by the doctor in the doctor's office with no problems at all. He finally stopped having ear infections at that time.

Hello...I know how difficult this decision is. We have done it both ways. All three of my children have tubes and my twins had them for almost 3 yrs before we had issues. One had to go to surgery b/c we replaced the tubes, one we had removed in the office and yes it is painful but it is VERY quick and then it is all over. I have medically fragile children and I avoid anesthesia as much as I can. I would suggest having it done in office if your kiddo can cooperate!

My son (age 4) just had his left tube removed on Thursday. He got the tubes when he was 1. The doctor had said it is important to remove the tube because after this long it could create scar tissue. There was no sign of the tube rotating which it does shortly before it falls out. We had to have the tube surgically removed in a day surgery. It was less than a 20 minutes surgery, and he is doing great so far. No pain or discomfort at all.

My daughter is in her fifth set of tubes, as she has a hearing loss and her eustachian tubes have not dropped yet to allow for fluid to flow out freely. Anyway, I agree with actually both Ambers. Going under sedation is not like they are giving the child an IV or a breathing tube. It is just the gas mask and then they are done- easy as pie. I always am concerned, but the more times you do this, the more you know how easy it is. For those people saying that it is not painful, I totally disagree, especially because of the tissue adhering to the tube. The ear is a very sensitive place and is very uncomfortable and painful to be messing around with. The other Amber stated you should ask about an in-office sedation, which might be a good idea. It can't hurt to ask. Even though some people say it is only traumatic for a few seconds without anesthesia, it is still traumatic and your baby will relate the doctor's office to pain and trauma. If she ever has to go back, it could be a struggle. I am just speaking from the heart of a mom who deals with docs all of the time for my special needs child and my "typical" child. It is not worth putting your baby through trauma she is too young to understand. I would definitely have the anesthesia involved to help her. That's my two cents. Hope it helps.

Hey -
My son had tubes installed when he was 10 months and he had them for over three years. One finally fell out and then the other fell out about 6 months later. Before he had tubes, he had ear infections ALL of the time. Then, he didn't have any at all. But, just before the last tube came out, he had one last ear infection that just would not go away. He probably had it for 6 weeks and the doctor told me if the last round of antibiotics did not work, she was going to have to remove the tube because she thought that maybe the tube was holding the infection. She said that she would put him under because removing the tube can hurt.

Also, I have a friend whose daughter had her tubes removed and they did NOT put her under. He said that his daughter screamed like you would not believe and if he had to do it all over again, he would put her under.

Anyway, ours eventually did fall out and all has been well. The itching MIGHT be a sign that it is getting ready to fall out?

Good luck!

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