My Baby's Ear Infection Almost Led to Surgery

Amy Jo Jones

Baby EarI know the signs: Night wakings become more frequent and he doesn't eat as much. He gets clingy and goes from playing happily to a hot, feverish lump -- hello ear infection! I haven't missed you at all!

Rowan had two ear infections during his first 12 months. After two more in rapid succession, my pediatrician suggested a consultation with a Pediatric Ear Nose and Throat Specialist (ENT).

Of course, I made the appointment. I don't want my baby to suffer through more infections, but I also don't want to have him put under so he can have incisions in his ear drums -- I don't know what to do!

The ENT was pleasant, but I had the feeling that even though I was there for information, she had her mind made up. She checked his ears, throat, tonsils, and adenoids. Good news, she said: He only needed tubes and we didn't need to remove his tonsils or adenoids. Wait, what? We still hadn't done a hearing test. I asked if we could check that before discussing the matter any further.

I was surprised to find ourselves led to a tiny, dark room with speakers in each corner. The test consisted of Rowan on my lap and someone observing how he turned his head in the direction of the sounds coming from the speakers. Some of which were so low I could barely hear them myself. I was not exactly sold on the process.

His hearing in the high frequencies, where most speech and language occurs, was fine. His hearing in the lowest frequencies was just barely below normal. It wasn't perfect, but not terrible. If they would have identified a problem, this decision would be much easier, but they didn't.

After hearing that tubes don't guarantee there won't be a recurrence of ear infections and that they only stay in (on average) between 9 and 18 months, I decided to wait and see what the next few months bring.

I hate the idea of handing him over to a nurse, in one of those baby hospital gowns, for a surgery. I know it's minor surgery and infants get them every day, but what if he only has two more ear infections that I can easily treat in the next 9 months? Is that so bad? Which one is the lesser of two evils?

Do you deal with ear infections with your baby? Has any doctor recommended tubes? Do you think you would go through with a procedure to have tubes put in? 


Image via LisaW123/Flickr

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