Ear tubes – also known as myringotomy tubes, tympanostomy tubes or ventilation tubes – are small tubes that are surgically placed into your child's eardrum by an ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeon to help drain the fluid out of your child’s middle ear. These tubes, which are made of plastic, metal or other material, help reduce the risk for ear infections.
During an ear infection, fluid builds up in your child’s middle ear. This can affect your child's hearing. Sometimes even after the infection is gone, fluid may stay in the ear. These tubes help drain this fluid and hold off repeat fluid build-up.
Children between ages 1 to 3 years old are most likely to need tubes. By 5 years old, most children have wider and longer eustachian tubes, the canals that link the middle ear with the back of the nose. This lets fluid drain better from the ears.