Ear infections, or otitis media, are common for some children, and they can lead to hearing loss in some cases. Parents of small children need to know the risk factors for ear infections to help prevent them and subsequent hearing loss. Here are a few things you should know about ear infections and your child's hearing.
Symptoms Of An Ear Infection
Some types of ear infections present with acute symptoms while others don't. A typical ear infection will come with an ear ache and possibly a fever, dizziness or vomiting. If you have an infant or a child who can't verbalize pain or accompanying symptoms, you may notice your child tugging on his or her ears. In some cases, you may also see discharge in the ear itself. If you notice any of these symptoms, you should consider a visit to the pediatrician or family doctor.
Causes Of Ear Infections
There are many causes for ear infections, such as exposure to loud noises or to second-hand smoke. Some childhood diseases, such as mumps, measles, meningitis and chicken pox, can also result in ear infections. Children with allergies or children who attend daycare may also be prone to ear infections. If your child has enlarged adenoids, he or she may have issues with the adenoids impeding the operation of the Eustachian tubes in the inner ear. These tubes help to drain fluid, and when they are blocked, the buildup of fluid can cause certain ear infections.
Hearing Loss And Ear Infections
When your child has an ear infection, he or she will have some hearing loss until the infection has run its course. The fluid prevents the bones in the inner ear from vibrating, which muffles sound and makes it more difficult to hear. The hearing loss during an ear infection is typically about 24 to 45 decibels, depending on the thickness of the fluid. If your child has frequent ear infections or has had fluid in the inner ear for an extended period of time, you should talk to your pediatrician or ENT about scheduling a hearing test, as your child may have permanent hearing loss. Some symptoms of hearing loss in children can include:
- Asking to turn the volume on the radio or TV up significantly
- Seeming inattentive or unable to understand what you are saying
- Does not wake up for loud sounds
- Has difficulty with speech or pronouncing words
As with many other conditions, knowing the symptoms and causes can help you take action to prevent and treat your child's ear infections. Partner with your doctors to treat ear infections as early as possible and to monitor your child's hearing to prevent hearing loss. For more information, visit a site like http://www.HearDenver.org.