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How many ear infections will it take before my child needs to get “tubes”?

Ear infections are one of the most commonly diagnosed illnesses in children. In fact, ear infections are the most common reason antibiotics are prescribed in the US, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The AAP recommends that children who have had three ear infections in six months or four in one year be evaluated by an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist (ENT). An ENT is a surgeon who will first see the child in his or her office. After a thorough evaluation, they will decide with your pediatrician if surgery is necessary. The insertion of tympanostomy tubes is a surgical procedure that would be scheduled at a later date. Not all children with recurrent ear infections require tubes, however, so just seeing an ENT does not guarantee that your child will need tubes.

Reviewed by Dr. Sara Connolly, April 2019

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