Otitis media and hearing loss in kids

Why ear health is important

The first 3 years of life are when communication, social and learning skills develop. With healthy ears, children can:

  • learn language and talking
  • listen to family stories
  • listen to music
  • talk with family and friends
  • learn at school
  • feel good about themselves
  • get a job later in life.

Ear disease and hearing loss

Ear disease can create hearing loss – either for a short time or for life. Hearing loss can affect things like: 

  • the ability to listen, learn and talk 
  • school attendance
  • behaviour, perhaps causing irritability and reduced attention  
  • making friends
  • self-esteem. 

Recognising hearing loss

Babies and young children with healthy hearing will:

  • react to loud, unexpected noises
  • turn their head to follow noise
  • respond to familiar voices
  • be able to locate and move towards noise.

Older children with healthy hearing will:

  • respond when called from behind or from another room
  • be aware of signs of danger (hear cars before crossing the road, hear sirens)
  • not ask people to repeat themselves or say ‘What?’ all the time
  • not need to turn the TV up loud to hear it.

Even when children seem to have healthy hearing, take them to a health service for regular ear checks. This will help make sure their ears and hearing stay healthy.

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