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Ear Exam

What did you say?
I can't
hear you!

Impacts of ear infections on speech & language development in children

Ear infections in children from birth to 5 years of age are very common. They are caused when fluid(mucus) builds up in the middle ear and is unable to properly drain through the eustachian tubes. The build up of fluid makes it difficult for sound to travel to the inner ear, resulting in reduced or muffled hearing of sounds and words. If a child experiences chronic ear infections, placement of pressure equalization tubes, more commonly known as P.E. tubes, can be place by an ear, nose and throat doctor (ENT) to drain the fluid, increase air flow through the ears and improve or remediate hearing loss.  

In some cases, ear infections that are frequent and long-lasting, can cause damage to the inner ear and lead to more severe and permanent hearing loss. If your child is experiencing frequent ear infections or you suspect that they are not hearing well, it is important to seek medical advice from a doctor (ENT/pediatrician) or audiologist. An audiologist can complete a comprehensive hearing test and discuss how your child is hearing. 


Because recurrent ear infections impact a child's ability to hear clearly and/or cause a loss of hearing, whether mild or severe, speech and language development can be impacted. If you feel like your child speech and language skills have been impacted by their recurrent ear infections or if your feel that they are not developing for their expected age seek advice from a licensed speech-language pathologist.


Warning Signs of Hearing loss in Children:​

  • Speech delay

  • Muffled hearing or feeling of clogged ear

  • Failure to respond to sound

  • Use of babbling sounds in speech

  • Ringing in the ears

  • Difficulty understanding speech in background noise

  • Asking others to repeat themselves

  • Being bothered by background noise


Early intervention and treatment for recurrent ear infections can help mitigate the impact on speech and language delay and hearing loss. 

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