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Debunking 4 ear tube myths

Ear tube surgery is the most common childhood surgery performed in the U.S. It can be life-changing for little kids, reducing infections and allowing them to hear clearly so they can meet speech and language milestones. Learn when ear tube surgery might be a good idea, and test your knowledge with the below myths and facts.

Myth: Kids with ear tubes need to wear ear plugs in the water.

Fact: About 10 years ago, the American Academy of Otolaryngology ran several studies testing this idea. They discovered that water entering the ear is a minor problem, and usually doesn’t happen unless the individual is submerged 3 feet deep or more. Kids with ear tubes no longer need to take water precautions for regular showers or baths. However, if kids are swimming in a pool regularly, or getting into a lake, it’s best for them to wear ear plugs.

Myth: Kids with ear tubes shouldn’t fly on an airplane.

Fact: Having ear tubes is one of the best conditions for traveling with small children. Air travel hurts when middle ear pressure becomes severe. In kids with ear tubes, the pressure immediately transmits through the tube so there’s no discomfort.

Myth: Kids with ear tubes or chronic ear infections should avoid milk.

Fact: Any evidence suggesting that avoiding milk will lessen the number of ear infections is very weak. Milk is unlikely to make any difference. Feel free to let kids drink up.

Myth: Alternative therapies can prevent ear infections and the need for ear tubes.

Fact: There’s no evidence that putting essential oils like lavender or garlic drops in the ears reduces infections. The child’s age and genetics have a much bigger impact on how effectively his or her ears function.

Dr. Andrew Sheppert is an otolaryngologist at Vancouver Clinic. He sees patients of all ages but has a special interest in caring for kids with obstructive sleep apnea and chronic ear problems.