Ear infections, also known as otitis media, are very common among children. Ear infections can be caused by bacteria or viruses. If an ear infection lasts for a prolonged period of time or if your child has multiple complicated ear infections in a short period of time, ear tube surgery may be appropriate. Ear tubes, also known as tympanostomy tubes, are small tubes that allow more normal movement of air behind the eardrum and may reduce the number of future ear infections. Ear tube surgery may also be performed when your child has a buildup of fluid behind the eardrum. This fluid is often associated with hearing loss and may lead to speech and language delays.  The insertion of ear tubes allows for the resolution of the middle ear fluid with an improvement in hearing and can prevent future buildup of pressure and fluid.