Patient Instructions – Postoperative Care following Ear Tube Placement

If general anesthesia or sedation was used for the procedure, then the patient will be drowsy for a few hours following the procedure. Afterwards, the patient should be feeling better as there is no significant pain in most cases. However, a dose of Tylenol may be given if needed.

A small amount of drainage or blood is not unusual in the first 72 hours. It may be cleaned gently with a dry towel. Do not put a cotton-tip applicator (Q-tip) deep into your child’s ear.

There are no activity restrictions following ear tube placement. If the patient goes swimming, then they need to use water precautions to reduce the risk of developing an ear infection.


Water Precautions

Do not allow water to get in the patient’s ears until directed by the doctor. To keep ears dry while bathing or swimming, place Vaseline on a piece of cotton and place it snugly in your child’s ears. An alternative is to buy ear plugs at your local pharmacy, or have custom-molded ear plugs made by an audiologist. Water exposure increases the risk of developing an ear infection.


Warning Signs

If any of the following occurs, then call the office and talk with one of the medical assistants:

  • persistent ear drainage after 72 hours.
  • temperature of 102 F or more (slight fevers after surgery are normal)


Postoperative Appointment

A follow-up appointment will be scheduled for 2 weeks after the surgery. This should not be missed as it is important to note the tube is in good position. A screening hearing test will also be performed that day to ensure hearing is normal.

Afterwards, a routine ear tube check will be scheduled every 4 to 6 months to evaluate the ear tubes. It is important to know when the tubes fall out and if the ear drum has healed, and to determine if fluid has re-accumulated in the middle ear.


Robert Wilson, MD.