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These instructions are to help you know what to expect after a tympanostomy, an ear tube placement. The most asked questions are answered below, but if you have other questions, please contact us. 

Physical Activity  

Most patients go home shortly after the procedure. Because your child received a general anesthetic it is common for them to be a tired or off balance for the rest of the day. They should rest under adult supervision the day of the procedure. There is no other limit on activity.  

Post-Operative Care 

It is common to have a little clear yellow drainage from the ear for a day or two after the surgery and you may even see a little blood. This is normal and should quickly get better. You’ve been given antibiotic ear drops to use to prevent infection after surgery. You’re usually instructed to use 4 drops two times a day for 5 days, but if your surgeon has given you other instructions, follow those. 

The opening of the tubes placed in your child’s ears are small enough that it’s tough for water to get through. Surface swimming in clean pools doesn’t require ear plugs. Soapy water can get through the openings, so during bath time you should avoid pouring water directly in the ears or submerging the head all the way under water. If a little water splashes in the ears, that is okay. 

If you notice bad smelling or thick drainage from the ears, call us at the clinic and we will arrange for a follow up or call in a prescription for antibiotic drops. If you have antibiotic ear drops at home, you may use those for 7 days. 


In the recovery room you’ll typically be given some clear fluids or a popsicle in case your child has some nausea after the anesthetic. Once you’re home there is no restriction on diet. 


Any pain after the procedure is often mild and can be managed easily with Motrin/Ibuprofen or Tylenol. 

Follow up 

You should have an appointment to check the tubes a few weeks after the procedure. If you don’t know when your appointment is, please call us.