Symptoms of an ear infection may include earaches and thick, yellow fluid coming from the ears.

Mostly caused in children, they can be reoccurring and extremely painful.

Mankato Clinic ENT Specialist Brett Baldwin says, "Most of the time it's because of that undeveloped U station tube that is supposed to drain that middle ear space and they sit at more of a horizontal rather than a vertical plane so they're a little less effective at draining."

Reoccurring ear infections can lead to hearing loss.

Baldwin says, "Just having fluid in the middle ear space doesn't allow the sound to be transmitted well from the ear drum down through a lot of the hearing bones into the inner ear mechanism so having just fluid there a lot of times that fluid can become thickened almost like a glue which can further decrease the hearing.”

Inserting ear tubes is a surgical procedure that can help stop those reoccurring ear infections by draining the fluid and ventilating the middle ear.

Baldwin says, "It takes about two minutes to do. I operate under a microscope. The tubes although visible by the eye it's much easier under the microscope. I make a small incision at the anterior inferior aspect of the ear drum such in any fluid that would be normal just sitting in that middle ear and I put the small tube through the opening in the ear drum."

The internal diameter of the tube is 1.27 millimeters.

The tubes last anywhere from 6–18 months.

Baldwin says, “As the ear drum heals it heals from the inside out and it just naturally pushes the tube out and it falls out into the ear canal.”

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