As your child grows up and experiences the wonderful sounds around them, sometimes their hearing may be hampered by an ear infection or persistent fluid in the middle ear. If you’re a new parent or one who has never dealt with this condition personally, it’s important to know the symptoms of an ear infection your child may have, even if they don’t tell you verbally.
One of the easiest signs to determine otitis media, or an ear infection, is if your child is experiencing ear pain. This pain is not on the outside cartilage of the ear (although there are infections that can affect this area as well) but rather inside the middle ear which cannot be seen without an otoscope. The pain can vary from quick and sharp to long and debilitating. Your child may tell you if their ear is hurting if they are at a conversational age, but this can be tricky for parents of infants, early toddlers, or children with verbal delay.
Approximately half of patients diagnosed with an ear infection have accompanying fevers. This is due to the immune system attempting to ward off germs, viruses, and bacteria that may be present in the ear. Younger children and infants may also be fussy, irritable, or have trouble with sleep. If your child is unable to describe their symptoms, a temperature check can be a good indication along with an otolaryngologic evaluation.
If your child cannot tell you if they are experiencing ear pain, some nonverbal cues can help. With an infection affecting the middle ear, children may tug at the ear. While these signs could also indicate that something is stuck in their ear canal, it would be wise to take your child to their physician for an examination.
Earwax is common to fall out of the ear. However, fluid that is white, brown, or yellow with a noticeable unpleasant smell could indicate pus from an infection. In addition, this could also be the result of a ruptured eardrum from the excessive fluid buildup which could lead to hearing difficulties.
Dr. Isaac Dingle, a CEENTA ENT specialist from our Pineville office, has advice regarding ear fluid. “Ear infection and ear fluid are very common in younger children. Never hesitate to make an appointment at CEENTA to have an otolaryngologist evaluate your child. A professional ear exam and audiogram are very important in determining if tympanostomy tubes are needed in your child. These tubes can reduce the frequency of ear infection and relieve the trapped fluid that can lead to speech delay from conductive hearing loss.”
Fluid building up behind the eardrum along with inflammation in the inner ear can cause your child to have reduced hearing. Although temporary hearing loss is normal for ear infections, recurring infections or significant fluid in the middle ear could lead to more severe hearing loss in the long run.
If you or your child are dealing with any combination of the above symptoms, it’s time to schedule an appointment with an otolaryngologist. CEENTA’s team of ENT specialists can provide ear exams and recommend treatment options for long-time ear infection patients, including ear tubes and eustachian tube balloon dilation. Schedule your child’s next ENT appointment with Dr. Dingle at our Pineville office today for better hearing and better health.
This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your doctor. New patients can make appointments online with our ENT doctors in North and South Carolina. Current patients can also make appointments through myCEENTAchart with physicians they have already seen.