EAR INFECTIONS IN YOUNG CHILDREN

According to a recent ASHA blog, “approximately two-thirds of children get at least one middle ear infection (otitis media) by age 3.” And with ear infections, especially at a young age, hearing loss may not be so far behind.

If your child has an ear infection is there any cause for concern?

It’s definitely something that should be looked at by a doctor or doctor of audiology as soon as possible. The younger the child is, there great the chance of future hearing problems. Under age 3, children with hearing loss are more susceptible to recurrent infections down the line, and recurrent ear infections are a big contributor to hearing problems.

How can you tell if your child has an ear infection?

There are many reasons why children might get or be prone to ear infections, including family history, allergies, asthma, or bottle feeding while an infant is on her back.

Symptoms include (according to the NIDCD):

  • Tugging or pulling at the ears
  • fussiness and crying
  • fluid draining from the ear
  • clumsiness or problems with balance
  • and more

How do ear infections cause hearing loss? Is is permanent?

Chronic otitis media can affect the middle ear for a long period of time, and the position of the Estachian tube – different in infants and children than adults – can inflame and swell due to a buildup of fluid.

“All types of middle ear infection can cause some degree or temporary hearing loss. In most cases, the loss is mild and doesn’t result in any long term damage to hearing ability,” says healthy hearing. But there’s one big caveat: “…infants and toddlers who suffer from chronic otitis media experience stretches of mild hearing loss during a crucial learning period for speech and language.”

For these reasons, among others, a middle ear infection should bet taken care of as soon as possible.