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Health Tip: Ear Tubes May Help Prevent Ear Infections

(HealthDay News) -- By the age of 5, the majority of young children will have an ear infection, the American Academy of Otolaryngology says.

Most ear infections will resolve without medical intervention or with a dose of antibiotics. But in some children, ear infections become chronic.

In these cases, parents may wish to discuss with a doctor the appropriateness of using ear tubes.

Ear tubes are tiny cylinders that allow air to move into the middle ear. They are also referred to as tympanostomy tubes, myringotomy tubes, ventilation tubes or PE (pressure equalization) tubes.

Short-term tubes are smaller and typically stay in place for six to eighteen months before falling out on their own.

Long-term tubes are larger and have flanges that secure them in place for longer periods. Long-term tubes may fall out on their own, but removal by a doctor may be needed, the academy says.

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