Have A Great Relationship With Your Doctor

Your Guide To Seeing An Ear, Nose, And Throat Doctor When Your Young Child Has Repeated Ear Infections

by Terry Wilson

If your infant or toddler has had repeated ear infections and antibiotics seem like they are only a temporary cure, it is time to speak your child's primary care physician about arranging to see an ear, nose, and throat doctor. That person will be uniquely qualified to determine an underlying cause, if applicable, for your child's ongoing distress. Therefore, when you see the specialist for the first time, it is a good idea to be aware of the information discussed below.   

Frequent And/Or Untreated Infections Can Result In Hearing Deficits 

It is important to note that while ear infections are quite common in young children, often due to the reduced size of their eustachian tubes that allow for fluid to accumulate, repeated ear infections have been responsible for permanent hearing losses for many kids. One common cause of that deficit is often a ruptured ear drum, due to infections, while another is scar tissue that accumulates within the ear canal or on the actual ear drum.

Since infants and toddlers are learning to speak through mimicry at this age, a hearing deficit often results in the need for extensive speech therapy. Therefore, your child's ear, nose, and throat doctor might suggest one or more evaluations of your child's hearing to check for a problem, even if you have not observed any issues yet.

The Doctor May Suggest Minor Surgery To Provide Your Child With Temporary Tubes For Better Drainage

As mentioned previously, one cause of a child's persistent ear infections has been the inability of accumulated fluid to drain away from the ear. Although not uncommon, that issue can be very painful and in some instances, it may seem as if your son or daughter's ear infections are constantly a problem.

As a result, the ENT may suggest a minor outpatient procedure to provide artificial tubes that will allow the fluid to drain away, thus preventing additional ear infections. Typically, the surgery cannot be done if a child has an active infection, so timing is essential and complications are rare. As your child grows, the implanted tubes will not grow with them and will usually fall out on their own, often on a pillow or in the bathtub. This surgery is known to be quite successful and is a good choice for many young children.

In conclusion, ear infections in young children are very common, but often present with significant pain and the possibility of a permanent hearing loss. As a result, if your son or daughter has had many ear infections, you are likely to find that consulting with an ENT to evaluate new treatment options, such as providing artificial tubes to temporarily replace his or her slow-draining eustachian tubes is often recommended.