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Ear Tubes

Caring for Your Child with Ear Tubes

Did you know your child can still get ear infections with ear tubes? 

The infection will look different. You should see drainage coming out of their ear(s). It will be a liquid that looks like mucus or yellow/green pus. It can have some blood mixed with it. It can also smell bad.

Treatment of Middle Ear Infection illustration, including exterior ear with drainage, healthy interior ear showing ear tube, and infected interior ear with ear tube and trapped fluid

If you see ear drainage, this is an ear infection and you should do the following to treat:

  1. A small piece of rolled tissue is inserted into the ear canal to remove drainage

    Wash your hands.

  2. Clean all ear drainage from the cheek/face with warm soapy water.

  3. Remove drainage from the ear canal by “ear wicking.” Take a tissue or paper towel, roll it up at the end and place it approximately 1 inch into the ear canal. Turn the tissue or paper towel, then pull it out. Repeat if needed.

  4. Treat with antibiotic ear drops.

    • Warm the ear drop bottle in your hand.

    • Help your child lay on their side.

    • Pull the ear back, place the ear drops in the ear canal, and pump the flap of skin in front of the ear canal (the tragus).

  5. A finger presses on the flap of skin in front of the ear canal (the tragus)

    During an ear infection, keep the ear dry by using a cotton ball with petroleum-based ointment when bathing.

  6. Treat with antibiotic ear drops that are ordered by your ENT provider or PCP. If you need a refill on ear drops, please call your primary care provider or the ENT Clinic at (816) 234-3040 or send us a message through the Patient Portal.

When to call the ENT Clinic:

  • If ear drainage lasts longer than 7 days while using antibiotic ear drops.

  • For antibiotic ear drop refills.

  • General questions or concerns regarding ear tubes.

Other information:

  • Please use ear plugs in dirty water (lakes, rivers, ponds, ocean) or if diving into pools or swimming at least 3 to 4 feet under pool water.

  • Ear plug recommendations include Putty Buddies (silicone ear plugs) or an Ear Band-It. Both can be found online or in some stores.

  • We typically follow children with ear tubes in the ENT clinic every 12 months. However, we also offer urgent appointments as needed.

If you have concerns about your child’s ears or ear tubes in between appointments, feel free to give us a call at the Children’s Mercy ENT Clinic: (816) 234-3040.