Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
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Home / A–Z Services / Pediatric Surgery / Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) Otolaryngology / Your ENT Visit / Tympanostomy Tubes: What to Expect After Surgery
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Tympanostomy Tubes: What to Expect After Surgery


Things sound loud

If there has been a lot of fluid in the ears for a while, after surgery the child may seem afraid of regular sounds (running dishwasher or vacuum, flushing the toilet) for a few weeks. This means they're now hearing these sounds!


Usually there is not a lot of pain with tube surgery. Often, pain your child experiences prior to surgery will decrease because the fluid is allowed to drain. If there is pain, Tylenol or Motrin should be adequate. No Motrin should be used after a tonsillectomy, however.


Fevers of up to 102°F (38.8° C) can occur for up to 72 hours, related to the anesthetic. Fevers that are higher than 102°F don't tend to occur with surgery, and are a sign of other illness.

Ear drainage

  • The ears may drain for the first few days after surgery. The fluid can be bloody or have mucous in it.
  • In the future, use drops to the affected ear if there is drainage. This drainage means the tubes are working as fluid is draining out that would have been trapped behind the ear drum. In general, drainage comes out onto the outer ear or the neck. Wax is not drainage.
  • The drops should be used for five to seven days. If it has not decreased within five days or isn't gone in a week, contact the doctor's office.
  • IT IS VERY IMPORTANT to press on the triangle of cartilage ("the tragus") in front of the ear a few times after using the drops. This helps the drops go where they need to.
  • Hydrogen peroxide can be used in the ear first if the drainage is very thick and the drops won't go in.
  • Most children can swim in chlorinated water without ear plugs. In dirtier water where the head is being submerged (lakes, baths) you should consider using an ear plug.
  • Ear plugs can be made using a cotton ball piece coated on the outside with Vaseline ointment. Some kids prefer the "Ear Band It", a neoprene head band, which you can find online.

Last Edited: July 8, 2016
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