Sounds Good: Kids All Ears about New Guidelines
Kids seem to be all ears to infections in the worst way. They often get fluid in their ears, but it usually goes away on its own. When it doesn’t – typically antibiotics will do the trick – doctors will often place tubes in the infected ear to drain the fluid and reduce the risk of repeat infection, hearing loss and even problems with speech.
About 667,000 ear tubes are put in children each year, according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. By the age of 3, one out of 15 children will have tubes in their ears. It’s no wonder then that experts have begun to question the benefit of the procedure, clinically referred to as tympanostomy, which is $3 billion-a-year-business.
What is now suggested that is different than what has been done in many practices is that children who have frequent ear infections, but do not have fluid behind their ear, should not be candidates for tympanostomy. Those who have fluid in their ears for less than three months also should not be considered. The American Academy of Otolaryngology wrote that the fluid often resolves itself on its own, even after an extended period of time.
Give It Time
If the child has fluid for longer than three months, they should get a hearing test. Ear tubes should only be offered to children who have hearing difficulties and fluid in both ears for longer than three months. If the child has fluid in one ear and additional attributable problems, including balance, poor school performance, behavioral problems, ear discomfort, or reduced quality of life, doctors should consider the ear procedure.
Another Kind of Ear Procedure
Another common childhood concern involving the ears is the presence of large or protruding ears. Children born with big ears or ears that stick out can hear some pretty nasty things. Incessant teasing and name calling don’t always go in one ear and out the other, either. The badgering can even be traumatizing, beginning in childhood and on into adulthood.
The good news is that children don’t have to go on covering their ears.Otoplasty surgery can correct ears that are deformed, oversized or protruding. Plastic surgeons have, indeed, been able to reshape, pin-back, reduce in size, or change symmetrically almost any ear defect.
Sometimes these defects are evident at birth or become increasing apparent with age. Sometimes injuries or previous surgeries can leave an ear disfigured. That said, there is no longer any reason for a child to live with the self-consciousness or low-self esteem brought about by unsightly ears. Surgical advances can produce natural shapes and alter even the slightest abnormalities.
Otoplasty is most common among children. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons says most cases include children between the ages of 4 and 14. However, just about anyone in good health without ear infections or medical conditions that might obstruct healing can be a candidate for otoplasty reconstruction.
Unlike tympanostomy, there’s typically no need to wait. In fact, the ASPS recommends the sooner the surgery, the better as a good rule of a thumb for two reasons:
- Children have cartilage that is extremely pliable and easier to shape;
- Cosmetic surgery at a younger age will eliminate psychological effects that can develop from peer ridicule.
Music to Your Ears
It is important to know that otoplasty surgery will not improve a child’s hearing ability or affect the incidence of ear infections. It will, however, improve the way a child looks and feels about themselves.