What to Expect When Your Child Has Ear Tube Surgery

Today I am sharing our ear tube surgery journey as parents. I have include our before, during and after experiences. ​

The Diagnosis

Our daughter had her ear tubes put in when she was about 15 months old. She is now 20 months old and thankfully her tubes are still in her ears. I say that because it’s not uncommon for them to fall out early. After Ava returned to daycare in August from summer break we noticed she started to get sick frequently. It felt like she always had some sort of a cold with a runny nose, bad cough, and eventually green “gook” coming from her eyes. She never really had a fever with these colds so we waited to take her to see the doctor once the symptoms had gone on for more than a week or if the green “gook” appeared sooner. When we went in to see the doctor we often discovered she had an ear infection too. By the end of November she was averaging one ear infection per month. This was happening too frequently so our doctor referred us to an ENT specialist. Luckily we were able to make an appointment within the following two weeks.

When we met with the ENT specialist he told us our options. We could put the tubes in, wait and try a different medicine and see if the infections clear up, or wait on the surgery and see if maybe it was something in her diet causing her to have allergies. My husband and I both agreed that we wanted to have the tubes put in her ears. Our baby was miserable and we thought the tubes were the best route, and that they were. ​

Preparing for The Surgery

Before the surgery I contacted some of my friends who went through the same thing with their children. These were some of the helpful tips they gave me.

Things to Know Before Ear Tube Surgery

  • Dress them in something comfortable. We put her in footless pajamas.
  • Bring a lovey or favorite blanket if they have one to comfort them after the surgery
  • Bring a sippy cup or bottle and some clear liquids so they can have a drink afterwards. I forgot clear liquids but the nurse provided me with some.
  • If they are using a pacifier don’t forget to pack that.
  • Don’t worry. Everything will be just fine!

During Ear Tube Surgery

For this surgery the child has to receive anesthesia and be put to sleep. That is such a scary thought as a parent. It made us worry but all of the doctors and all of my friends who had their children go through the same thing, said there was nothing to worry about and that it happens so fast that it will be over before you know it. I am here to say they were right. It took longer for them to prep her for the surgery than it did the actual procedure. Within 30 minutes they called us to the back to hold her as she woke up. We had enough time for us to eat our Chick-fil-a chicken biscuits and grab a drink before the nurse came and got us.

I held her in my arms as she woke up. She drank some apple juice (lots of apple juice) and we waited a little while so the nurse could make sure everything was fine. A few minutes later my husband pulled the car up front and we were headed home. We stayed home with her for the rest of the day and kept her out of daycare the following day just to keep an eye on her. The doctor said she could return to daycare the next day but I wanted to stay home with her for my peace of mind.


After Ear Tube Surgery

It has been about 5 months since Ava’s surgery. As I mentioned earlier she still has her tubes in. Since her surgery she has had two ear infections which is better than one a month. The tubes have definitely helped the fluid drain from her ears. The discharge from her ears can be anywhere from clear, light yellow or dark brown in color and sometimes has a horrible odor!

If the discharge gets on the outside of her ear we will clean it up with a q-tip or a damp wash cloth. Other than that we let it be and allow the tubes to do their job. The doctor said the ear will clean itself. He said to not stick anything into her ears to get the drainage out because that could cause us to push stuff back into the ear.

Her first ear infection after the tubes was a little scary. I didn’t know what to expect. Her ears had been draining, which is normal but continued for more than a week. Towards the end of the week there was a bloody discharge coming from both ears. Of course I freaked out. We called the doctor and he said it was probably from her ear infection. He prescribed us some ear drops and had us come in to see him within a few days. Just recently Ava has had another ear infection. This time there was more blood than usual. We called the doctor and he did the same thing as before. The drops cleared everything up and this time on our visit he said it was part of the infection and the body’s way of trying to get rid of the tubes in her ears. Thankfully the tubes are still in and her ears still look good. ​

How to Prevent Water From Getting in The Ears

After her surgery we purchased some ear plugs from our doctor for Ava to use during bath time and in the water this summer. It turns out that these were so difficult to get in her ears and to keep them in. So I did some research and discovered Putty Buddies ear plugs. These have been great and have worked really well for our daughter during bath time and playing in the water outside. You can find them here.

Looking back now I can definitely say that if we had to do it all over again we would still go with putting tubes in her ears. It has definitely helped our daughter.

Does your little one have frequent ear infections? Are tubes something you are thinking about?

Post Edited 7-19-2018 With our Current Situation

Ava will be three in August and both of her tubes fell out about two months ago.  So if I did the math right her tubes lasted about 18 months. Right after her tubes fell out she got an ear infection, but she hasn’t had anymore since then.

We currently give her Zyrtec when her allergies start acting up, and a probiotic everyday.




  1. Pam Keys
    August 1, 2018 / 4:51 pm

    Thank you so much for this post. We are currently in the deciding stages of this procedure. My daughter is 4 and is experiencing dome mild hearing loss and the doctor suggested that we insert tubes to drain the fluid so that she can hear better. Your post was very helpful and calmed me down a bit. Glad to hear that your daughter is doing better.

    • Anna
      August 7, 2018 / 1:42 pm

      Awww…I’m so happy this has been helpful! No worries…She will be ok. Keeping her in our thoughts and prayers.

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