[Skip to Navigation]
JAMA Otolaryngology Patient Page
October 15, 2020

What Are Ear Tubes?

Author Affiliations
  • 1Children’s National Medical Center, Department of Otolaryngology. Washington, DC
  • 2George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. Washington, DC
JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2021;147(1):116. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2020.2753

Ear tubes are tiny pieces of plastic or metal that create an opening in the eardrum.

The eardrum separates the middle ear space from the ear canal. The tube connects the middle ear and the ear canal. This allows fluid that builds up in the middle ear, including ear infections, to drain into the ear canal instead of causing fever, pain, and decreased hearing. The ear tubes are very small (1/20th of an inch) and cannot be seen from outside the ear (Figure). They are usually not permanent.

Limit 200 characters
Limit 25 characters
Conflicts of Interest Disclosure

Identify all potential conflicts of interest that might be relevant to your comment.

Conflicts of interest comprise financial interests, activities, and relationships within the past 3 years including but not limited to employment, affiliation, grants or funding, consultancies, honoraria or payment, speaker's bureaus, stock ownership or options, expert testimony, royalties, donation of medical equipment, or patents planned, pending, or issued.

Err on the side of full disclosure.

If you have no conflicts of interest, check "No potential conflicts of interest" in the box below. The information will be posted with your response.

Not all submitted comments are published. Please see our commenting policy for details.

Limit 140 characters
Limit 3600 characters or approximately 600 words
    ×