One of the most common causes of temporary hearing loss is accumulation of fluid behind the eardrum (the middle ear). This is a common occurrence following an upper respiratory infection. Although more common in children, it frequently occurs in adults as well. When the fluid fails to clear spontaneously, in adults it can be drained in the office under local anesthesia. This procedure is called a myringotomy. A small opening is placed in the eardrum and fluid is suctioned out, resulting in immediate improvement in the hearing. If there is concern about the fluid recurring (as in a patient who experiences episodes repeatedly) small ventilating tubes can be placed in the ear drum at the same time. Tubes typically remain in place for one to two years and fall out on there own. The procedure takes only a few minutes and patients can return to normal activity immediately.