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Temporary Hearing Loss From Ear Infections
Your Child’s Earache Could be Causing a Temporary Hearing Loss
The cold and flu season may be irritating to adults, but poses a special risk to children. Children have smaller heads than adults, and the Eustachian tube that connects the back of the throat with the middle ear is horizontal and less developed. If a child gets a cold, mucus easily can flow into the middle ear, obstructing the three tiniest bones in the body. With fluid in the middle ear, the bones cannot move properly to transmit the sound waves hitting the eardrum. In this way, a cold can quickly turn to into an earache, and hearing loss is the result.
Overcoming Temporary Hearing Loss in Children
Hearing loss caused by a blockage is known as conductive hearing loss, and is usually temporary. It can be treated with medication or with surgery. Ear infections are the most common cause of conductive losses, making children especially susceptible to conductive hearing loss.
Interestingly, conductive losses caused by fluid may or may not be an infection. Fluid can be present, but not infected. But, if untreated, it can turn into an infection. Fluid can even have varying degrees of thickness. If the fluid is really thick, it is known as “glue ear.” The typical treatments for fluid are decongestants, antibiotic medicine, or surgery known as “tubes.”
Conductive hearing losses may or may not cause pain. The typical time for a child to experience pain with fluid in the middle ear is at night. When the child is lying down, the fluid can cause pressure and therefore pain. If your child cannot sleep unless he is sitting upright, chances are he has fluid in the middle ear.
Parents sometimes find it hard to spot signs of hearing loss, thinking that a child is not paying attention or ignoring them rather than not hearing properly. In addition, hearing loss may fluctuate as the fluid in the child’s ear moves and shifts throughout the day, and this can be very confusing to parents who are trying to figure out the problem.
Parents should always be pro-active if they think their child is not hearing properly. Hearing problems can inhibit learning, social skills, and mental development, so it is a good idea to test children for hearing loss regularly. Fill out the contact form on this page to make an appointment with our board-certified audiologists today!