"Mommy and Daddy, My Ear Hurts" (Otitis Media)
(Source: American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, ASHA)
Next to the common cold, Otitis Media (fluid in the middle ear) occurs more often than any other illness among preschool-age children.
When the fluid is not detected it can cause hearing loss significant enough to affect the child´s speech and language development.
Facts About Otitis Media
CAUSES: A tiny passageway between the middle ear and the back of the throat called the eustachian tube keeps air pressure in the ear equal to outside air pressure. This tube also lets unwanted fluid drain out of the middle ear. If the eustachian tube gets inflamed from a cold, allergy, or infection, it will not drain the fluid, and the fluid may become infected.
* AGES: Otitis Media can occur at any age. However, it occurs most often in infants and toddlers because their eustachian tubes are small, nearly horizontal, and easily blocked. Two-thirds of all children have at least one ear infection by age 3, and one-third have three or more infections.
* WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Your child may have pain and fever. However, pulling or scratching the ears, irritability, misunderstanding directions, wanting the television louder than usual, and listlessness may also be signs of chronic or recurring infections or chronic fluid in the middle ear. See an audiologist and speech-language pathologist.
The audiologist can assess the severity of any hearing loss. The speech-language pathologist can find out if the middle-ear problems have slowed down your child´s speech and language development. If so, remedial programs can be offered.
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) is the national professional and scientific society that represents 81,427 audiologists; speech-language pathologists; and speech, language and hearing scientists. ASHA´s mission is to promote the interest of its members, to provide them with the highest quality services, and to advocate for people with communication disabilities. ASHA´s Consumer Affairs Division provides an information and referral service on a broad range of speech, language and hearing disabilities for both children and adults.
For additional information on this topic or other speech, language, or hearing disabilities, contact the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 10801 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD 20852, 1-800-638-8255 or (301) 897-8682 (Voice or TTY).