Tympanostomy tubes are small tubes that are surgically placed into your child's eardrum by an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) surgeon. The tubes may be made of plastic, metal, or Teflon®.
The tubes are placed to help drain the fluid out of the middle ear to reduce the risk of ear infections. During an ear infection, fluid gathers in the middle ear, which can affect your child's hearing. Sometimes, even after the infection is gone, some fluid may remain in the ear. The tubes help drain this fluid, and prevent it from building up.
The most common ages for tube placement are from 1 to 3 years old. By the age of 5 years, most children have wider and longer eustachian tubes (a canal that links the middle ear with the back of the nose), thus, allowing better drainage of fluids from the ear.