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FOX Carolina News: Ear Tube Procedure for Children can be Done in 5 Minutes

FOX Carolina News: Ear Tube Procedure for Children can be Done in 5 Minutes
February 20, 2024.

NEWBERRY, S.C. (FOX Carolina) – Ear infections in children can be painful, and are very common. If a child gets too many in a short period, ear tubes are often the answer. Usually, the procedure is done in a hospital setting with anesthesia, but a new medical device is changing the game.

“We had one big cluster of ear infections that may have been the same one, or may have been multiple ones, but for a month or two, he just has had constant ear infections,” father Stephen Flower said.

Flowers says his one-year-old son, Banks, was constantly fussy due to his ear infections.

“We were really frustrated because we tried all the different antibiotics and the antibiotics upset his stomach,” Flower said.

Newberry ear, nose and throat Dr. Wayne Harsha at Carolina Pines ENT says kids often get ear infections because their eustachian tubes, which connect to your eardrum, are smaller than adults.

“So it doesn’t work as well,” Dr. Harsha said. “A vacuum will form in that space and it will suck bacteria from the nose and cause an ear infection.”

When a child gets three or more ear infections in a six-month period, ear tubes are often recommended.

“We put a hole in the eardrum to equalize the pressure there and it reduces the number of ear infections a kid will get,” Dr. Harsha said.

This usually requires a hospital visit with anesthesia, but a new medical device called the Hummingbird can be done in the office.

“It takes about a minute per side and there is no anesthesia,” Dr. Harsha said.

The handheld device is used to insert the ear tube into the eardrum.

“Our child handled it really well,” Flowers said. “He cried a little bit. But it wasn’t wasn’t bad. It didn’t hurt.”

It doesn’t cure ear infections, but makes it much more comfortable if the child gets one. Flowers says his son has been much better since his procedure in December.

“Before when he got your infections that fluid was trapped behind the eardrum, and it would get really bad,” Flower said. “He pulled from his ears. And he was just fussy all the time.”

Flowers said when his son got an ear infection after the procedure it was much better. The fluid drained and his ear didn’t bother him much.

Right now this procedure is mostly geared for children. It’s not always covered by insurance, but in the case of this family, Flowers said it was cheaper to pay out of pocket than with insurance at the hospital.

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