Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Ear Infections, Hearing, and Speech

       Ear infections, which can also be referred to as “otitis” can be created by excess fluid and bacteria that accumulates in either the outer, middle, or inner ear.  However most ear infections happen in the middle part of the ear.  These middle ear infections are often called otitis media.  In the case of otitis media, the middle part of the ear fills up with fluid, which can cause severe pain and discomfort.  Another common type of ear infection is “swimmers ear” or otitis externa, an infection of the skin in the ear canal.  If water or fluid gets caught in the ear canal, it can cause a skin infection, which can be extremely painful or itchy.

            Ear infections and swimmers ear can have both temporary and long term affects on hearing and speech development.  In any case where the ear is filled with fluid, a person’s hearing can be affected.  The fluid interferes with the transmission of sound through the ossicles.  In most cases, hearing returns back to normal as soon as the infection clears up.  When young children get ear infections all the time it can have an affect on their speech development.  When the ear infections are constantly affected the children’s ability to hear correctly, it can affect the way they talk.  Children learn from hearing other people talk, so if they hearing incorrectly, their speech will mimic what they hear. 

            If children get up to five or six ear infections in one year, a doctor may suggest they get a surgery known as BMT.  BMT stands for bilateral myringotomy tubes.  The tubes act as a “crutch” to help the ear drum drain of fluid.  The tubes are used to prevent the ear from filling with fluid and constant ear infections.  When ear infections are prevented, the child will start to hear more clearly and start speak more correctly.  

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