It is that time of year again when we prepare for the cold winter to arrive. Did you know that middle ear infection is very common in winter? Middle ear infection (otitis media) is the inflammation of the middle ear space, the area behind the ear drum. It often stems from a prior infection of the respiratory tract that spreads to the ears. The Eustachian tube that links the middle ear to the throat gets blocked, causing fluid to build up behind the eardrum. Middle ear infections are extremely common in children, with approximately 80% of children having been infected at least once by the time they are 3 years old, with the peak age being 7-12 months.
Middle ear infection is also the most frequent cause of hearing loss in young children. When the middle ear space is filled with pus, it hinders the sound waves passing through, therefore causing a hearing loss. Untreated or frequent middle ear infections often have a negative impact on a child’s communication development. It is important to recognise and treat it swiftly to avoid serious communication delays. Symptoms may include:
- Ear pain
- Touching or pulling at the ears
- Poor sleeping
- Poor hearing
- Discharge from the ears
- Loss of balance
If you suspect a middle ear infection, it can easily be confirmed by an audiologist by conducting tympanometry, which is a middle ear test. This test shows us objectively how the ear drum and middle ears are functioning, and can help us detect a middle ear infection very early on. It also indicates a build-up of fluid. We can then provide you with information about the condition and treatment options, and ensure with appropriate referrals that your child is in good hands. Contact us to schedule an appointment if you are worried.