Preoperative Care for Ear Tube Surgery

Prior to surgery, it is important to follow all instructions that your child's physician provides. To help prevent anesthesia complications, you will be instructed to restrict your child from eating or drinking anything 12 hours before surgery.

In addition to the instructions from your child's physician, the following tips may be helpful:

  • Dress your child in comfortable, loose fitting clothes (or pajamas).
  • Allow your child to bring a favorite toy, blanket, or stuffed animal.
  • Have your child remove all jewelry.

Notify the physician if your child shows any signs of illness or has been exposed to chickenpox. Help your child stay calm before the surgery by keeping a reassuring attitude. Remind your child that the surgery will help his or her ears feel better.

Postoperative Care for Ear Tube Surgery

Follow the surgeon's instructions about how to care for your child's ears as they heal from the surgery. The child will be given a prescription for eardrops to use after the surgery. If these eardrops cause severe pain or your child develops a skin rash, contact the surgeon immediately. The surgeon may recommend switching to a different type of eardrops.

After your child fully recovers from the anesthesia, he or she may be given food, such as juice, toast, or crackers. Your child may notice an improvement in his or her hearing immediately after recovery.

Ask your child's surgeon about possible complications and whether you should call the surgeon or your child's pediatrician if complications develop. Signs of problems include the following:

  • Fever—Low-grade fever after the surgery is normal. However, if your child has a fever that lasts longer than 24 hours or is higher than 102.5 degrees F, contact your physician.
  • Drainage—Blood-tinged fluid draining from the ears for a few days is also normal. But, if the draining continues for more than 3 days or develops a foul smell, contact your physician.
  • Pain—Your child may experience some ear pain after the procedure. The child's physician may recommend pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) and rest to reduce pain. If the pain is severe or persists for more than several days, notify your child's health care provider.
  • Water in the ears—Talk with the surgeon about how to deal with water getting in your child's ears during showering, bathing, and swimming. Custom-fitted earplugs and shower caps can help prevent water from getting into the ear. Special eardrops, applied after water exposure, may also help prevent infection. Ask the surgeon about these and other possible options.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 27 Aug 2008

Last Modified: 14 Sep 2015