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Consider Ear Tubes to Effectively Relieve Chronic Ear Infections and Fluid in the Ear


(From left to right) Mayci, Brett, Wyatt, Elizabeth and Madisyn Brashears of Milan, IL, are a family on the go. When their middle daughter Mayci had recurring ear infections, they turned to an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist, Dr. Dvorak for an outpatient ear tube procedure. When their youngest son, Wyatt, was diagnosed with chronic fluid in the ear, they again consulted their ENT surgeon and used ear tubes to correct the problem successfully.

Wyatt Brashears will be three years old in July. He loves Mickey Mouse, dancing and hugging his sister Mayci the moment she comes home from school.  “He’s a busy little guy, “said his mother, Elizabeth Brashears. “If there’s a mess, he’s in it. He’s rambunctious and fun. He’s growing so fast. I guess he’s your typical boy!” 

Another reason Wyatt is “typical” is because he’s struggled from the time he was born with fluid in the ear. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, there are nearly 2.2 million cases of fluid in the ear in the U.S. each year.

The good news is Wyatt’s ear troubles disappeared once he had ear tubes inserted in an outpatient setting at the Mississippi Valley Surgery Center.

What is fluid in the ear?
Fluid in the ear, also called serous otitis media (SOM) or otitis media with effusion (OME), happens when the auditory tube (Eustachian tube) is impaired. The auditory tube is connected to the back of the throat and equalizes pressure behind the eardrum.  If the tube becomes clogged, fluid will become trapped in the middle ear space.

Anyone can get fluid in their ears, but it is much more likely to occur in young children. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the vast majority of children diagnosed with fluid in the ear are under five years old.

What are the symptoms of fluid in the ear?
Fluid in the ear may or may not cause noticeable symptoms. Symptoms can include ear pain, hearing loss, and delayed development in speech and language.

Elizabeth and her husband, Brett, noticed Wyatt touching his ears a lot. Since their daughter Mayci had struggled with ear infections just a few years before, they immediately visited their pediatrician to report the concern.

“Wyatt would just mess with his ears a lot. He’d put his fingers in them and poke at them,” said Elizabeth. “We picked up on the issue right away because we had been through chronic ear infections with Mayci just a few years earlier.”

To help both Mayci and Wyatt, the pediatrician referred the Brashear family to Dr. Douglas Dvorak, an ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeon.

“While Mayci had chronic ear infections that required ear tubes, Dr. Dvorak told us that Wyatt had fluid in his ears. The fluid impacted his hearing, almost like he was listening from underwater — sounds were muffled and distorted. The good news was he hadn’t suffered any real or permanent hearing loss. Much like he had with Mayci, Dr. Dvorak recommended ear tubes as an effective solution,” said Elizabeth. “He took his time talking with us and describing everything both times we consulted him on ear tubes. He put us at ease.”

What are ear tubes and how well do they work?
Ear tubes are tiny — they are smaller than the head of a match — but they do a big job. Placing tubes in the ears drains the fluid and ventilates the middle ear. Tubes may keep ear infections from recurring while the tubes are in place, which is why they are often used to help children who have repetitive ear infections. Because they also keep fluid from building up behind the eardrum, they are also used to help alleviate fluid in the ear.

Dr. Dvorak reassures families by letting them know that most ear tube procedures can be done at an outpatient facility. “We find most people feel more relaxed in an outpatient setting,” said Dr. Dvorak. “Our small patients get a coloring book, crayons, and a stuffed animal to keep them busy and happy. The staff we work with is very caring and focused on making the whole family feel at ease.”

A Speedy Recovery
Elizabeth and her husband were amazed by how quickly both Mayci and Wyatt recovered.

“Both of the kids were home within hours of the procedure, tearing around the house,” said Elizabeth. “It was back to playing, laughing and talking almost immediately. The best part was how well the tubes worked for both of them. We’re no longer battling ear infections and fluid in the ear at our house.”

Dr. Dvorak is located at 3385 Dexter Court in Davenport, Iowa. For more information about Dr. Dvorak and the other physicians at ENT Professional Services, visit http://entprofessional.com/ or call 563-359-1646. For more information about the Mississippi Valley Surgery Center, visit www.mvhealth.net.