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If you’re a parent of small children, you probably don’t think it’s unusual that they don’t listen until you raise your voice…maybe not even then! But if they can’t hear a candy wrapper opening from across the room, it might raise an alarm.
Consider the possibility that your child could be suffering from an Ear infection.
You might have heard about kids who always need drainage tubes in their ears because of chronic ear infections. An ear infection of this nature (technical term: otitis media) describes inflammation of the “middle” ear.
“Acute otitis media occurs when a cold, allergy, and the presence of bacteria or viruses lead to the accumulation of pus and mucus behind the eardrum, blocking the Eustachian tube. This can cause earache and fever,” according to The American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS).
Allergies can also cause this condition – which can be accompanied by fever and a great deal of pain.
Firstly, kids get a lot of colds, which is often a prerequisite. The resulting pus and mucus accumulation in the ear blocks their Eustachian tube, a narrow tube that carries fluid from the middle ear down to the throat, where it is swallowed.
When the Eustachian tube becomes blocked, fluid can build up in the middle ear, providing a perfect vector for bacteria to multiply. The blockage also creates a vacuum effect, drawing even more bacteria in.
The reason that kids’ Eustachian tubes are so susceptible to blockage is that theirs are shorter and straighter than ours and lie flatter in the ear, making a quick and easy path for bacteria to travel in – but not out.
The bacteria-laden fluid is the source of the pain and the reason why young babies with ear infections tug at their ears and rub their swollen jaws. No wonder parents sometimes mistake these symptoms for teething.
The hearing loss caused by ear infections can vary, but can often be compared with coming out of the pool with an earful of water. That is a significant loss – about 25 to 45 decibels, depending on the thickness of the accumulated fluid.
To put that in perspective, senior citizens naturally lose about 5 decibels of hearing per year to the aging process, with 45 decibels being the sound level of conversational speech. So if your child can’t understand you unless you speak loudly, they might have hearing loss caused by an ear infection.
Untreated, chronic ear infections can lead to temporary or even permanent hearing loss, and unless the pain is acute, can go unnoticed. If your child has unexplained fevers, ear pain, or can’t seem to hear you unless you speak loudly, you should seek professional help.
At Houston Sinus & Allergy, our ENT doctor specializes in treating nasal and ear conditions, as well as issues stemming from allergies. Dr. Nguyen has helped countless children to breathe and hear properly, with compassion, technology and skill. Book an assessment today to let us determine How to help your child’s ear infection, and allow them to hear your voice in full effect!