My daughter has had one ear infection after another. When she gets an infection, she seems to have trouble hearing, but with medicine it always gets better. Still, I'm worried that these infections could lead to permanent hearing loss somewhere down the line. Could this happen?
Ear infections are common in childhood. As with your daughter, some kids do have temporary hearing loss due to the accumulation of fluid in the middle ear, but it usually goes away with treatment.
It's very rare, however, for kids to develop permanent hearing loss, even when they've had several ear infections. A child with frequent or chronic ear infections is at risk for permanent hearing loss only when damage has been done to the eardrum, the bones of the ear, or the hearing nerve.
Since your daughter's hearing appears to return to normal after treatment for an ear infection, she's probably not at risk for permanent hearing loss. But if you're concerned, talk to your doctor about scheduling a hearing exam.
If your daughter's ear infections continue to be a problem, the doctor might refer her to an otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat doctor), who may suggest ear tube placement to help reduce the incidence of ear infections and limit the potential problems they can cause to her hearing.
Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: July 2013
|American Speech-Language-Hearing Association This group provides services for professionals in audiology, speech-language pathology, and speech and hearing science, and advocates for people with communication disabilities.|
|American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.|
|American Academy of Audiology The American Academy of Audiology, the world's largest professional organization of, by and for more than 10,000 audiologists, is dedicated to providing quality hearing care to the public.|
|Dealing With Earwax Earwax helps protect the eardrum and fight infection. Parents shouldn't attempt to remove earwax at home, as doing so risks damage to the ear canal and, possibly, a child's hearing.|
|Hearing Evaluation in Children Hearing problems can be treated if they're caught early, so it's important to get your child's hearing screened early and evaluated regularly.|
|How Will I Know if My Child Has Trouble Hearing? Find out what the experts have to say.|
|Ear Injuries Ear injuries not only can affect a child's hearing, but sense of balance, too. That's because our ears also help keep us steady on our feet.|
|Can I Prevent Ear Infections When My Child Swims? Find out what the experts have to say.|
|Eardrum Injuries A "popped" eardrum is more than just painful - it can sometimes lead to hearing loss. Learn about eardrum injuries and how to prevent them.|
|Middle Ear Infections Ear infections are common among kids and, often, painful. Find out what causes them and how they're treated.|
|Middle Ear Infections and Ear Tube Surgery Many kids get middle ear infections (otitis media). Doctors may suggest ear tube surgery for those with multiple infections or a hearing loss or speech delay.|
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995-2016 KidsHealth® All rights reserved.
Images provided by iStock, Getty Images, Corbis, Veer, Science Photo Library, Science Source Images, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com