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Baby/Toddler ear infections (tubes?)

(12 Posts)
swelchphr Tue 31-May-16 14:19:51

I currently live in the US and we will be moving to London in the next couple of months (and will be there for 5 years). My husband works for the government and we will be purchasing private insurance. My situation is that my son, who will be 8 months old next week, has just had his 3rd ear infection. Generally, after 3 incidents in the first year, they are referred to a pediatric Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT) doctor.

I also have a 3.5 year old son who had a chronic bad ear infections when he was a baby, which resulted in him having to get tubes (surgically) put in his ears the weekend of his first birthday. Total game changer! He was a much happier baby (because he wasn't always in pain), and began walking within the couple of months following (they believed the ear infections may have been impacting his equilibrium). Generally they fall out in about a year and have to be removed by the ENT during a regular office visit. His did not fall out, and he needed another set so around his 2nd birthday, he had another surgery to remove the old ones and put in new ones. Now at 3.5, as of his last visit a few months ago, we were waiting for the 2nd one to fall out and he'll be done. He'll probably just have regular annual visit to keep an eye on it.

Anyway, I've made an appointment for the younger to see the ENT on Monday. Last appointment, we mentioned that he'd had 2 ear infections so far, what if he needs tubes too? The ENT at that time said that hopefully that won't be the case, with us moving, because they don't generally do them in the UK and if he needed them and there was a problem (or when they fell out and so needed to be removed), we'd probably have to come back to the US.

I'm nervous. If he needs them, I want get them taken care of now before we move (both for his comfort and because we've had a good experience with this doctor). Is that true that in the UK it's not as common? Does anyone have experience with this? I'm hoping to get some input prior to our appointment next week. Thanks!

Lonecatwithkitten Tue 31-May-16 20:41:25

In the UK they are called grommets and using them is incredibly common..

MrsFrTedCrilly Tue 31-May-16 20:50:15

My little boy had grommets inserted when he was 3, he is now 8. He also had his placed due to recurrent ear infections in both ears. They are checked 6 monthly by his ENT surgeon. It very much depends on how your child's ear grows and develops as to when the tube/grommet falls out so try not to worry. My sons have been in situ for 5 years! In the uk it's quite unusual for them to be placed in children under 2 although I guess in the US it's different. Come over, see an ENT doctor here and try not to worry. Best of luck with your move!

Backingvocals Tue 31-May-16 21:01:51

Your ENT is talking rubbish. I had them 43 years ago. My DS had them four years ago. Very common.

It's true that under the NHS there are criteria for using them and a few ear infections wouldn't suffice. My son was on antibiotics for a full year before he met the slightly random criteria and they don't like to do them on under 2s. He got his at 2 exactly and he was an unusual case.

But in any case if you will have private cover you won't need to follow the NHS criteria although I guess the basic principles are just good medical practice (ie don't do unnecessary surgery).

donkir Thu 02-Jun-16 21:57:47

My eldest now 14 had grommets and I had to push for a referral as he was getting an infection every 6 weeks. Like a pp said they don't like to do the operation on under 2s but it does happen. My boy was about 22 months and touch wood he's had no more problems.

Summerdreams Tue 07-Jun-16 06:18:22

My 22 month old has had 14 ear infections mainly in a 10 month perieod allthough he has an immune deficiensey. Grommets have been mentioned after the 14th one and this is after a year of being 2 diffrent types of preventetive antibiotics I don't think they rush them here for very young children Ive read its common for children to have up to 5 ear infections a year in there first few years.

CuntingDMjournos Tue 07-Jun-16 06:45:46

I've had three children recommended for grommets on the NHS and removal reinsertion etc can certainly be done here. Are you sure yr doctor isn't trying to make more money by getting you to fly back to the US for treatment ? The NHS system can be slow for first insertion so my first two kids had loads of infections over the winter then the referral took a while so they didn't get grommets until the following winter.
For my third I went private once she'd had several ear infections as I didn't want to wait for the NHS referral. If you are getting private health insurance as part of your relocation package then there will be no issues of delay on the NHS that other posters have had. Actually my private doctor managed to break the cycle of infection by prescribing a low level of antibiotics for 3 months. However at that point I was reluctant for grommets as my eldest by then had suffered complications - unhealed holes - she has to have another operation when she's 12 and the ears have stopped growing basically a skin graft to seal the holes as she's 9 now and still not closed up. She can't get any water in her ears so have to be careful with hair washing and plugs when swimming.
My private doctor offered grommets quickly.

swelchphr Tue 07-Jun-16 21:00:53

This is great information, thank you.

My husband went to the appointment last time and it that was what was originally told to me. However, when I met with the doctor yesterday, his concern wasn't that they did do them in the UK, just that he was unsure how common it was particularly in babies since our son is 8 months old (which it sounds like it is uncommon). Also, since he usually has post-surgical follow up visits, he was just concerned for us that he would be performing the surgery and then we'd be moving. Unfortunately, my little guy now has ANOTHER double ear infection which is being treated with another 10 days of medicine and we will follow up again in 2 weeks, and then make our final decision what we're going to do. Sounds like if we don't do it before we leaves, if it continues to be a problem he'll just have to tough it out until he's at least 2 years old.

Crasterwaves Wed 08-Jun-16 00:55:49

As pp have said I don't think the info you mention about ages here in the uk is right. My dd had her grommets put in aged only just one. Obviously it has to be clinically justified.

If you have private health insurance you can claim on then you can go to the Portland Hospital in London to get them done which I believe is in fact owned by an American healthcare company.

I am going to pm you the name of our amazing ENT specialist and will also let you know who did my other child's op so you have two names.

CuntingDMjournos Wed 08-Jun-16 05:07:54

I also think you could definitely get it done privately here under the age of 2, it's getting it done under 2 in the NHS that is the issue as NHS prefers a watch and wait approach -and the vast majority of posters are talking about the NHS system as most people don't have private health insurance

ToDuk Wed 08-Jun-16 05:21:55

My dd has had three lots of grommets and has never had a long wait. Of course it's good not to rush into grommets because they do have the potential to scar the ear drum which may be why I have never heard of someone having them just because of infection.

Witchend Sat 11-Jun-16 17:47:31

Not sure your ENT knows what they're talking about. or they're after your money. Sorry.
Firstly they do usually fall out around a year, but they don't need to be removed after a year and new ones inserted. If they haven't fallen out after a certain time they may be removed as having grommets can cause some issues. Our chap commented that he sometimes removes them from people wanting to go into the RAF who had them as children.

The concern with them not coming out early enough is that the ear drum doesn't heal itself afterwards-but then putting new ones in stops that anyway.

Three infections in a year isn't that much, and they do it here from failing a hearing test (or two) anyway. Both my older ones had three ear infections under 1yo and definitely didn't have glue ear-and never had an infection again. Ds had infections every 10 days from around 3 months until grommets in at 20 months.
However even in that case the main reason he had grommets was the hearing, not infection. In fact they are very clear that the grommets don't guarantee to stop infections; it's a nice side effect for some people however it doesn't in some people.

They don't like doing more than three sets of grommets (ds has just lost his third) as it can cause permanent hearing loss due to scarring.
We've never had to wait long. The shortest was 1 day and the longest was nearly a month.

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