15 answers

How Long Should Ear Tubes Stay In?

First of all, I apologize if this question has been asked before! My son had ear tubes put in when he was 10.5 months old after at least 8 ear infections. They've worked fantastically and (knocking on wood) he has had zero ear infections since they were put in. My question is how long is too long for the tubes to stay in? They have been in for a little over two years. We were part of an HMO during the last year and my pediatrician denied my requests to have him re-evaluated by his ENT since they could see the tubes still in place, but now that we are in a PPO we can take him back to the ENT, which I intend to do very soon. In the meantime, I was wondering what your experiences are...how long did your child's tubes stay in, did they fall out or were they surgically removed, were there complications from being in too long or did s/he need another set, etc. Thanks much!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you all for your advice and stories of your experiences! I took my son to his ENT and he saw that one tube had already fallen out and the other was nearly out. We decided to try and have him extract it in the office. My son did great as the doctor and nurse got the tube out. They even made him a little "trophy" (his tube taped to a tongue depressor!) so he could proudly show it to his dad and sister at home. We were lucky that one hole was completely closed and the other was in the process of closing, so we no longer have to be seen by the ENT. So thankful we had such a wonderful ENT - the tubes really took our son from a fussy, always sick, unable to hear baby to a thriving 3 year old!

Featured Answers

Hi E.,
My daugher had tubes put in when she was 11 months (march 2007), and the last tube just fell out about 2 months ago. She has gotten ear infections since her tubes have fallen out, and even in the ear that the tube was still in, but her pedi hasnt suggested another round of tubes just yet.
Hope this helps,

More Answers

Heh, I didn't know they would take them out! My son got tubes at about 18 months; he's 11 now and I don't know if they've fallen out but they definitely have not been removed.

I have had 5 sets of tubes between 2 kids. As long as the tubes are in place and open, which the pediatrician can see, your son's tubes should be fine. Generally, they will work their way out on their own in my experience. As long as they are in place and open, they are working and helping to prevent ear infections for your son. I wouldn't worry too much if your pediatrician doesn't have a concern about it. You can always call your ENT just to ask "how long is too long" if that will ease your worries, but my 5 yr old's second set of tubes are still there 1 1/2 yrs later (well, at least one is--the other one came out on its own a while ago)

Hi E., My son had tubes put in when he was 10 months old - he is now three and the tubes are slowly working their way down the canal. When he got them put in the surgeon told us the tubes would stay in for 1-2 years and naturally work their way out on their own. We haven't had any complications from the the tubes and at this point we haven't seen any need to have another set put in. Your pediatrician should be able to see whether or not they are still in there. As I understand it, there's no need to go back to the ENT doc unless you're experiencing difficulties.

Hi E.,
My son Malachi had tubes put in when he was 18 months old. They seemed to work fine and we never had any trouble with them. They never did fall out on their own, he had to have them removed when he was about 3 1/2. It was not a fun experience. They held him down and pulled them out with some tweezer like tools. He screamed while they were doing it (it took like 5 seconds-per ear) and he was fine afterwards.
I would take your little guy to the ent soon. My daughter, who is now 16 months has tubes too - and in both cases the ent had us come back every 3 months to check on them and make sure everything was ok.
Good luck! A.

My son had his tubes in for about 2 years. We kept them in until they fell out. From what I understand, they shold stay in until they fall out. Otherwise they may have to get them again.

My daughter had tubes put in her ears at 18 months. Her tubes stayed in for about 3 years. They eventually just came out and we didn't even know until we went to our yearly check up with the Dr. She never had any complications with the tubes and did not need another set. Even after the tubes came out she did not get ear infections. She is 9 now and has no problems. Hope that helps!

My daughter's ENT told me that we should expect her's to stay in for 12-18 months, and that they usually fall out on their own. He also has set up appt's for us to see him in May for a 6 month follow up. He stated that if the tubes didn't come out on their own in the 12-18 months, that they may need to be removed by the doctor. I would definitely get him in again as soon as you can. Also, I would suggest taking your son to another doctor, because although it is rare to have complications, you should ALWAYS have a follow up after any kind of surgery, and for him to deny you to be able to take your son for that is ridiculous. I would be furious if my daughter's doctor denied me of a follow up after I had requested it. And although some surgeries require you to just go to your regular doctor for the follow up, I can tell you from experience of having tubes for my daughter, that the ENT likes to see them after the initial procedure at some point.

they said it's best to keep them for 18 months. the ent would try take them out in his office otherwise they would need to be surgically removed.

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