Otitis media and hearing loss in kids

Otitis media can cause hearing loss. This can affect how a child connects with language and culture, and how they experience opportunities during their lives. Read about why healthy ears are important and how to prevent ear disease.

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.

Resources

Care for Kids’ Ears – Order resources

If you care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, you can order Care for Kids' Ears resources for free, including brochures, booklets, activity books, crayons and stickers. You can also download and print as many copies as you like.

Last updated: 
5 August 2021

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