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Otitis Media 

Child has a sore ear. Little girl suffering from otitis.jpg

What is Otitis Media?

Otitis Media is the medical term used for infections and swelling of the middle ear. Fluid builds up in the middle ear, making it become thick and sticky. This is why Otitis Media is commonly called "Glue Ear". These infections are a common occurrence in children, with research indicating that a quarter of infants will have a middle ear infection by their first birthday.


Symptoms of Otitis Media

  • Ear pain.

  • Fever.

  • Pulling on the ear.

  • Fussiness, irritability, or restless sleep.

  • Decreased activity.

  • Lack of appetite or difficulty eating.

  • Vomiting or diarrhea.

  • Draining fluid from the outer ear (called otorrhea).


Ear Infection Diagnosis

If you suspect that your child has an ear infection, call your doctor or nurse to see if and when the child should be examined.


  • If your child is not impacted by the glue ear, no treatment is needed. It usually goes away by itself over time.

  • Sometimes antibiotics are prescribed to kill any germs left in the middle ear, and this may help clear residual fluid. 

  • If the glue ear still persists and is affecting your child's hearing over many months, your doctor may suggest surgery. This is a quick operation during which small tubes (called grommets) are put into your child's ear. These tubes help fluid drain from the middle ear.

What is the impact of a middle ear infection on speech and language development?

The main impact is associated with fluctuating hearing loss.

A child’s speech and language development depends on them being exposed to the consistent speech and language patterns of others, over time. If a child has a hearing loss, caused by a middle ear infection, this could be a risk to their speech and language development. They might not hear certain words or sounds, or the sounds might be distorted.

School age children with recurrent middle ear infections might have difficulties hearing/ understanding information, following instructions, and hearing sounds in words which could lead to difficulties with reading and spelling.

If your child has been diagnosed with Otitis Media and you suspect, they have difficulties with their speech and language development you can contact a speech therapist for further information.

More information on Otitis Media can be found here

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