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A child’s Eustachian tubes sometimes can't drain fluid away from the middle ear into the throat very well. If fluid builds up behind the eardrum, bacteria can grow. This is how ear infections begin. After an ear infection is gone, fluid often remains behind the eardrum.
A very small ear ventilation tube (vent tube) is put into the eardrum to allow fluid drainage and help prevent further infections.
The Eustachian tube is a canal that runs from the middle part of each ear to the back of the throat. It does two things. First, it keeps the air pressure inside the middle ear the same as the air pressure outside the ear. This helps you hear better. Second, it helps fluid from the middle ear drain into the throat.
In young children, the Eustachian tube is smaller, narrower, and more horizontal. This makes it easier for germs to move from the throat to the ear and for the tube to become blocked. Most children stop having ear infections around age 6 because their Eustachian tubes are more fully developed.
A vent tube lets fluid drain out of the middle ear, which reduces the chance of ear infections coming back. It is a very common and standard procedure with little risk.Back to top
A vent tube is usually recommended if your child has several of the following conditions:
Recurrent ear fluid buildup and ear infections are usually caused by a blocked Eustachian tube. Other factors might make your child’s condition worse:
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Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.