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!

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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.

they can leave holes in your childs ear that they say are easy to reapair and well we have tried it twice and has not worked, the hole got smaller but she has some hearing damage from it and we need to try to repair it again but have no energy to , too many other serious health issues with all the kids ti deal with that right now. Sad for her and she ony had them in a year not even. my younhger one has one still in and it needs to come out but dr said not during the winter months when colds are rampid, do it in the spring, give enough time before swimming starts to heal but after the cold season so it can be of use, like it is for us right now!

Our son had tubes put in at a very early age as well. This is what the Dr. said to us. They will fall out when they are ready and the chances of knowing when they fall out is almost zero because the tubes are so small. We are not sure when they feel out but when he got checked out for kindergarten they were gone. After he got tubes he never had problems again.
I have heard of children having to have a second set in but I think that is in extreme cases.
Don't worry just let them be and the longer they stay in the long the protection.


My son is 3.5 and is on his 2nd set of tubes. First set clogged within 8 months so they had to be replaced, 2nd set have been in for 13 months now. We follow up with the ENT about every 6 months, but they should fall out on their own any time between 12-18 months, or when child is between 3 and 5 years old. I would go see the ENT since the pediatrician may not be able to tell if the tubes are clogged or stuck. We also have our chiropractor check every so often if we feel he might be getting an infection or a really bad cold (like right now!). So far so good, no infections!

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,

My twins are 11 yrs old now but when they were one and half they both had tubes put in due to many ear infections. One twin had the tubes in for about 10 months before they fell out on their own. My other son had the tubes in for 13 months before one fell out. The other tube was stuck in wax and would not come out so it was surgically removed. They haven't had an ear infection since. Each child is different and I was told that as the ear chamber grows and enlarges the tube will come out on its own for the most part. Go see the ENT. They will tell you what needs to be done. Good Luck.

all 3 of my children have had tubes put in their ears. with my first 2 their tubes stayed in for almost exactly one year...every four months we were required to go to the ent for a tube check...he found the tubes in both of their ears stuck in wax at the one year appointment.
my third child, his one tube fell out at 8 months but the other tube is still in. When we went in for his check up he had an infection in the ear that the tube fell out of, we are waiting to see if it clears up and stays clear before we decide if the one tube needs to be replaced.
each child is different...my cousins kids had their tubes put in 3 times because they kept falling out, and my friends kids had to have theirs surgically removed because they were in for 19 months.
if you can, take your child back to the ent to be checked.

My daughter who is now 26…….so this was a long time ago…….got so many ear infections that I tried to get our pediatrician to adopt her……. so he could pay for all the office visits!! LOL Her tubes had to be put in twice the first set fell out after about 7 months. The second set stayed in for about a year and a half……….and then fell out on their own. Thank God for them………I was so happy that the infections quit. But, later we found out the infections were from her milk allergy, which we didn’t know about. Your son’s ENT should be seen just to make sure they are doing as well as your pediatrician said they are. Everyone is different……. Good luck

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