WATERLOO (KWWL) -- Talk to parents of young children about ear tubes and you'll get an earful.
The procedure is commonly used to curb repeat infections.
In Health Plus, why that child tugging on his ear could be the sign of a problem.
Ally Bachman used to hate going to the ear doctor.
Rightly so, the now 17-year-old has had 11 ear surgeries starting with ear tubes at 14 months.
"I was young so I didn't like what he did to my ears and stuff. And so he would always like try to bribe me to do good with like jellybeans and I hated jellybeans," she said.
Her ear, nose and throat specialist at Covenant Clinic in Waterloo sees a lot of young children like Ally when she was a baby.
"And at that time she already had many ear infections, been on numerous courses of antibiotics without any improvement," said Dr. Dov Rotenberg, Covenant Clinic.
Rotenberg says ear tubes ventilate the middle ear, thereby preventing fluid from causing middle ear infections.
"While we're waiting for the Eustachian tube to function the way it's meant to, we are able to bypass it and create artificial ventilation with the little tube," he said.
Ask a parent how much of a difference it can make when they're inserted.
"When the tubes were in she didn't have ear infections and she really didn't have issues. We might know that the tubes were no longer working, they were either clogged or out because she'd now developed an ear infection," said Ally's mom, Kelly Bachman.
Signs to look for?
"If kids are fussy and there's no apparent reason for the fussiness and if they start to especially when they're non-verbal , when they aren't speaking yet, if they're pulling at their ear and stuff like that that's sometimes the first sign that there's something wrong," said Dr. Rotenberg.
Ally's ear problems ended a few years ago, but she knows the frustration patients experience.
"Even though it seems like it's never going to end, it's not much fun while it's happening, I mean eventually you'll come through and you'll be stronger because of it," she said.
Online reporter/News Anchor: Tara Thomas