Another Ear Infection: 3Rd Set of Tubes or Steroids???

Updated on November 06, 2012
A.G. asks from Portsmouth, VA
11 answers

Its eartube decision time - again. My son has another ear infection (I think) just three weeks after his last one. He is 2.75 and has been suffering from frequent ear infections since his 1st birthday. He got his first set of tubes at 18 months, they worked for 9 months with no infections, and then he blew one and then the other out in the spring. His ENT took the watchful waiting approach, but with 5 infections in four months we put in new tubes. He has had infections in both ears since the tubes (in July), and then three weeks ago we found that one tube was out and infected again. He seems to have an infection in that side again.

THE PROBLEM: His Pediatrician and ENT are completely polarized on what they think we should do. They can't agree, which leaves our family in the middle not knowing who to go to.

The Pediatrician is not a fan of ear tubes and would like to put my son on a decongestant mixed with steroids to open up the canal (I think he would be on this daily for at least the spring). I am concerned about the use of steroids as they cause behavioural changes in me even at a low dose and I've also heard they can damage the eyes, immune and endocrine systems. He is also suggesting a trip to the allergist. I can see that many kids with an allergy end up with ear infections, but to me it seems like my son just gets an ear infection whenever someone in the house is sick. There are six of us, we have only lived on this coast for a year, and the new kindergarteners bring everything home so colds are a frequent problem.

The ENT wants to just go ahead and put another bigger eartube in (only one of the ones we got in July is still in). We are concerned because this would be his 3rd tube and we are worried about long term scarring of the eardrum and its effect on hearing now that it has been cut multiple times.

Anyone have some words of wisdom for me? We've been in speach therapy for over a year now trying to get back what Ender lost in his first 18 months by not being able to hear well. Our little guy is finally starting to make amazing progress so we just want to make the right decision and I feel like when I choose which Drs office to call tomorrow I will be making the decision by who I choose to call. Has anyone used steroids long term for ear infections with their kids? What is your expereince?

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So What Happened?

Decision Delayed!!! In a very odd turn of events, as best a the ENT can tell the eartube that was pushed mostly out and hanging by a little string of tissue seems to have grown back into the eardrum and looks like it is actually functional. ??? He's confused too, but both he AND my PED observed it and wrote down that it was no longer functioning. The other ear IS infected though, but luckily it is mild and we are going to try the antibiotic drops to clear it up, along with daily decongestants and antihistamines. So for now, no steroids and no tubes. He'll check again newt week and we will game plan next steps if these tubes don't hold. I'll also chat with him about whether the tubes need to be maintained with drops after water then (since hes on plenty right now).

Featured Answers



answers from Los Angeles on

Chiropractic works amazingly for ear infections AND getting ear infection prone kids off dairy and sugar, as well as adding PB8 and foods high in vitamin A.

My oldest ate a lot of dairy and had 3 ear infections, but we caught them quick and got him adjusted. We decided to stop the dairy for a while and he never got another ear infection.

My next 3 rarely get any dairy and no milk at all. NONE of them have had any ear infections.

Here's some research on chiropractic and ear infections:

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from San Francisco on

I would pick tubes over the steroids. He is so young and growth and development issues are at risk with using steroids. Can you get a 2nd and 3rd opinion on both the pediatrician and the ENT??? Do that if you can. Maybe there is something else out there for you to try that your team of DRs hasn't uncovered yet....>GL

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

I'm so sorry to hear this. I would look in to allergies and food sensitivities. Try cutting out dairy, wheat (maybe even all grains), and eggs. The Paleo diet can give you food ideas/recipes. Also Weston A. Price Foundation is a good resource. Hope he is better soon!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Victoria on

I agree with others when they say a chiropractor.I wish I had even heard of this when our 10 month old son had them put in. A month later another one replaced because the infection was so bad it pushed it out. Now he has both tubes gone but one ear has not closed up yet. He is almost 5. If the hole has not closed on its own by the time he is 7 he will need surgery to close it. Also my son does have allergies! Not our daughter though.

The ear suction thingy wont prevent the ear infections as the infection is on the other side of the ear drum and once you need the suction thing it has ruptured the ear drum.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Hi, A.:

Try a chiropractor:

Atlas Specific

Another idea is the suction gadget
advertised on TV.

Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Austin on

My son had tubes put in when he was about 14 months...... even with the tubes, he still got ear infections!

The ENT's solution was to use a nasal spray... I have no idea which one it was, since it was about 20 years ago, but it worked.... it was one of those like Rhinocort, or flonase...... I just don't remember the name of it at this point.



answers from Seattle on

Have you tried chiropractic? So much safer than all other forms of treatment you've listed. I've seen it work on several kids I know, all but one got better within a month of regular treatment! And no dairy products.



answers from Dover on

My (now) 3.75 year old son was diagnosed with middle ear effusions 10 months ago No history of ear infections, but his speech was quite slow(er) to develop than his older sister. I could also tell he wasn't responding appropriately to us when speaking to him, unless we were right in front of him. So, although he could "hear" the sounds, they were muffled and damp (like being in a cave or under water). I am a conservative parent as far as treatments are concerned (husband and I are both medical professionals). The options of tubes vs nasal steroids were presented to us by our ENT. We chose steroidal nasal spray (generic nasonex), because we thought tubes were too aggressive as an option, and unnecessary at this time. Within one month things improved! Our son is now almost 4, and his speech is blossoming! We will soon get his hearing evaluated again hoping to see a more concrete improvement in the sound conduction though his middle ear. Not sure how long we are planning to have him on the nasal spray, but we were comfortable with treatment for one year. Good luck.



answers from Washington DC on

Tubes are safe and fall out when no longer needed. Having kids on med permanently is not safe and healthy long term- making it likely he will need antibiotics and eventually grow resistant. I would see a new third opinion ENT!!!
Mine went through two sets and stopped needing them eventually when her eustachian tubes matured.

Robert Bahadori, MD provides otolaryngology services in Fairfax, VA. he is well known in the area and has different locations

Please call Robert Bahadori, at ###-###-#### to schedule an appointment in Fairfax, VA or to get more information.



answers from Dallas on

Only one of my kiddos had tubes. It was (as you experienced) amazing how his speech development and hearing went into warp speed development after that.
He only had the one set. I refused the second because his infections subsided almost immediately (only 1 in 18 months).
For you, It would concern me to have that much stuff in my kiddos body. I flu shot and vaccinate, but this is heavy stuff. I'd try the third set of tubes and combine with chiropractic treatments. Most kiddos ear canals develop enough by age 5 that they do not get infections like they did when they were little.
good luck with your decision.



answers from Phoenix on

I just recently heard about and tried onion juice on my son. After several applications, he wasn't complaining about his ear hurting. Just juice an onion and using an eye dropper or cotton ball, squeeze a few drops in his ear. You have to use freshly juiced onion juice (something about the infection fighting enzymes). I did it twice a day for 2 days. Next time I'll save myself the copay and cost of prescription for going to the doctor and just try the onion juice first..

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