Inside the ear, there is a channel called the eustachian tube that connects the back of the nose to the middle ear. One of the main functions of this channel is to help drain excess fluid from the ear. It also helps maintain normal air pressure in the middle ear so that the eardrum can move freely. In children, the eustachian tube is not yet fully developed. It is smaller, shorter, and more horizontal than that of adults.
These factors often inhibit the ears’ ability to drain effectively, allowing fluid to build up in the middle ear and resulting in an ear infection or “fluid in the ears,” both of which are called “otitis media.”
Patients who have frequent otitis media may benefit from bilateral myringotomy and tube placement. This very simple and low-risk procedure creates a temporary but constant pressure release for the middle ear. Learn more about this process by reading Should my child have tubes placed? You might also be interested in the different types of ear infections, related symptoms, and available treatment options.