Dr. Dahl’s answer: The insertion of ear tubes is an extremely common and safe procedure with minimal risks. When complications do occur, they may include:
Perforation — Perforation may occur when a tube comes out or a long-term tube is removed and the hole in the tympanic membrane (ear drum) does not close. The hole can often be patched through a minor surgical procedure called a tympanoplasty or myringoplasty.
Scarring — Any irritation of the ear drum, including repeated insertion of ear tubes, can cause scarring called tympanosclerosis or myringosclerosis. In most cases, this does not cause problems with hearing.
Infection — Ear infections can still occur in the middle ear or around the ear tube. These infections are usually less frequent, result in less hearing loss, and are easier to treat than ear infections without tubes in place.
Ear tubes come out too early or stay in too long — If an ear tube expels from the ear drum too soon (which is unpredictable), fluid may return and repeat surgery may be needed. Ear tubes that remain too long may require removal by the otolaryngologist to help reduce the chance of perforation.”
I’ve been having an on-and-off discharge from both ears (though never both at the same time) for months. The discharge doesn’t have much of an odor, though recently it smells vaguely like mint (I’m not joking!). It’s slightly yellow in color, or at least that what the Q-Tips look like if I swab out my ear. There has never been any pain involved, though I have had the sensation of a leak- where I could swab out my ear, grab my outer ear and move it around some, and feel liquid draining into my ear canal. I went to a sick call earlier this year and mentioned it to my doctor at the time, but he did not notice anything out of the ordinary in my ear. The only annoying effects are the sensation of having liquid in my ear and of the occasional itching. I plan on mentioning it again the next time I see my doctor, but was wondering if this is something that I should be concerned about for any serious health issues or long term consequences. Thanks!