Although most children experience ear infections occasionally during their early years, some are prone to so many such infections that they are at risk of secondary hearing loss or speech delay. For these children, ear tubes can help to both prevent infections and more effectively clear those that do develop. The tube works by enabling air to flow between the middle ear and the air outside the body, which in turn prevents the middle ear vacuum that can draw infection from the nose.
Effective in easing fluid-induced hearing loss by functioning as a drain, an ear tube drains pus from an infected ear as well. It may also serve as a conduit for medication, as it provides a channel through which a caregiver can introduce drops. The tube may remain in the ear for six months to a year or may be secured for long-term use, depending on the patient's needs.