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Ear tube instructions


  • On average, an ear tube lasts for about 1 year. In a few cases, a more permanent tube or a “T-tube” is used for children with chronic ear issues.  The type of tube most appropriate for your child would have been discussed by your provider prior to placement.
  • Many children only need 1 set; however, the need for an additional set of tubes is often determined by the rate of infection, fluid, or hearing difficulties after the first set falls out.



  • Every day maintenance is not needed; however, your provider will inform you how frequently they want to see you back and whether a hearing test will be needed.
  • For many, hearing is either tested every 6 months or yearly, based on patient age and need for monitoring. Occasionally, your provider may recommend a different time interval.
  • If a tube is in for 3 years or greater, your provider may recommend removal.



  • Ear drainage = ear infection. If no drainage, it is not likely an infection unless an ear tube(s) is blocked.
  • Drainage is often non-painful.
  • TREATMENT: Ear drops should be used and will be more effective than an oral antibiotic. If you’ve been prescribed an oral antibiotic and no drops for ear drainage, please call the office at 612-874-1292 so that we can assist with ear drops.


Ear pain

  • Children who are teething or those with dental issues may have ear pain related to their teeth. If there is no ear drainage, look to see if their pain is related to their teeth.
  • No dental issues, you may want to seek evaluation with your primary care provider to clarify the tube status.
  • Children often will stick their fingers in their ears. Studies have shown that this is not a reliable symptom or an indication for infection. It is often behavioral or unrelated to their ears.



  • While most children do not need ear plugs, few will have sensitivity with water that ear plugs may be trialed.
  • Silicone ear plugs are preferred and can be found over the counter at retail stores (sporting goods store, pharmacies, etc.)
  • In some cases, custom plugs may be recommended by your provider.


Ear wax

  • Some children produce more ear wax than others. If this is the case, your provider may recommend mineral oil (see additional handout for detail) or a topical ear drop.




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This page is not specific to your child, but provides general information on the topic above. If you have any questions, please call your clinic. For more reading material about this and other health topics, please call or visit Children's Minnesota Family Resource Center library, or visit

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