It's no secret that good, lasting relationships are formed between people who have a lot in common -- the same values, similar taste in music or films, the love of hiking/biking/cooking/dogs/stamp collecting... But let me tell you, there is such a thing as too much in common. My husband and I share one key aspect that has caused us both many sleepless nights over the years: we both have upper respiratory tract issues. I have had sinus problems all my life, and eventually had sinus surgery in 2010. My husband spent his early childhood with numerous middle ear infections, which were handled by giving him aspirin and waiting for the eardrum to burst.
Our shared poor ear-nose history means that we have created three beautiful boys with ear-nose issues. Our first two sons started having recurrent middle ear infections within a month of starting daycare, and ended up having to get tubes. I was really, really hoping third time's the charm and we would avoid ear infections with the third child, but no such luck: sure enough, the baby (6 mo old now) contracted his first cold after 10 days in daycare, his second after about 25 days in daycare, and that one turned into an ear infection. This was the end of November; three rounds of antibiotics later the ears are still not clear and the fluid is still present in his middle ear. One benefit of having gone through this with two older kids is seeing the writing on the wall early -- after the first round of antibiotics didn't work, I immediately requested referral to see an ENT. We finally got to see the ENT last week, and the baby will have tubes inserted this coming Tuesday.
It is very scary to have a baby go under anesthesia and endure any kind of surgery, but insertion of tubes is the kind of procedure that I feel carries really minimal risks and multiple rewards. I am not a medical doctor, but this will be our third time going for tubes, so I am fairly comfortable with the procedure and the benefits for everyone -- the baby sleeps and eats better, and we avoid: damage to hearing, speech development delays, the need to incessantly take antibiotics (and antibiotic resistance), terrible diaper rashes that can come with prolonged use of antibiotics... If the baby gets an ear infection after tube insertion, it is treated much less invasively -- with antibiotic ear drops that act topically, rather than those administered orally.
The procedure involves myringotomy (making a slit in the eardrum), followed by the removal of fluid from the inner ear by gentle suction, and finally tube placement. In my experience, the surgery takes about 15 min (both sides together). Babies wake up promptly afterwards and are famished (can't eat for hours before the surgery because of anesthesia), take a good nap shortly thereafter, and then they are as good as new. Tubes are supposed to stay in for about 9-12 months and then fall out on their own, but doctors say they can be in from 6 months to 18 months. I seem to recall that, if the tubes are still in after 18 months, they may need to be surgically removed.
Ear infections plague many a family with young kids this time of year. With kids in day care, there is no way to avoid colds; with us, every cold with a young baby is a cause of dread, because it invariably turns into an ear infection. Tubes have been a real life-saver with my kids and, as a mom, I highly recommend them as a way to combat persistent ear infections.