Mason and Elijah Degg – Ear Tube Success Stories

A reason to grin from ear to ear – the Degg brothers find relief from chronic ear infections with tube procedure

The Degg brothers find relief from chronic ear infections with an ear tube procedureMason and Elijah Degg are the typical brotherly duo. Big brother Mason, 3, leads the way, and little Elijah, 2, follows faithfully.

"It's like monkey see, monkey do, and some days it's not a pretty picture," says the boys' mom, Ashley Degg, laughing.

Unfortunately, the best buds both endured painful, chronic ear infections starting at only a few months old.

But Mason found relief through ear tube surgery at Methodist Mansfield Medical Center and, again following in his big brother's footsteps, so did Elijah. Through a toothy grin framed by a milk mustache, Mason says, "We're much, much, much better."

Expert care

The Degg family had a long road between Mason's first ear infection at 4 months old and the healthy, boisterous little boys they have today.

The Degg brothers find relief from chronic ear infections with an ear tube procedure"With Mason, it was very difficult because he was sick on a regular basis," Degg says. "We were at the doctor all the time. Plus, he couldn't hear everything because of the blockage in his ears, so he had a major speech delay."

Degg consulted employees at the hospital who referred her to Luke Shellenberger, MD, an independently practicing otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat specialist) on the medical staff at Methodist Mansfield.

"He was very good with the kids," Degg says. "He would make kid-friendly noises, and he was very soft-spoken and gentle with them."

Dr. Shellenberger recommended ear tube surgery. "If the eustachian tube, which is responsible for ventilating the middle ear space, isn't working properly or isn't mature, pressure equalization tubes can act as new eustachian tubes," he says. "They don't speed up the original tube's maturing process, but they give children up to 18 months of being infection-free while the tube is maturing."

Once the eustachian tube is fully matured, the pressure equalization tubes naturally fall out.

In Mason's case, his tubes fell out too early twice. Dr. Shellenberger then opted to insert T-tubes, which resist early rejection, and to remove Mason's adenoids. Studies have shown that this can help with drainage in certain cases.

Elijah had temporary tubes placed when he was 17 months old, and they have been a success.

Boys will be boys

A minor outpatient procedure, ear tube surgery lasts only about 10 minutes. The recovery period is quick, with kids "back to normal" by the end of the day, Dr. Shellenberger says.

The Deggs noticed an immediate difference in each of their sons.

"Mason would look at us more when we'd talk to him, and he'd pay more attention to what was around him because he could hear more things," Degg says. "Also, his speech tremendously improved.

"For Elijah, all the fussiness decreased because we weren't having to constantly put him on an antibiotic."

She says life is now much easier and a lot less stressful. "It's comforting to know they're healthier, and we don't have to struggle as hard to keep them healthy," she says.