Preventing otitis media

We can prevent and treat otitis media to avoid hearing loss. Taking children to a health service for regular ear checks is a great start, and there are things you can do at home too.

Preventing ear disease

The best thing to do to prevent ear disease is to take your child to a health service for regular ear checks from a health worker, nurse or doctor.

Sometimes ear disease doesn’t cause pain, so children show no symptoms. Even if they seem fine, children should have their ears checked at every visit to a health service. 

Other ways to keep ears healthy include:

  • breastfeeding babies if possible – it helps fight infection
  • remind children to wash their hands and faces regularly, especially before they play with bub
  • encouraging children to eat healthy foods like fruit and vegetables
  • reminding children to blow their nose in a tissue, put the tissue in the bin, and wash their hands
  • keeping any objects out of children’s ears – except if is part of a health professional’s instructions
  • not smoking around children
  • taking children to a health service for their vaccinations.

Read more about the symptoms of ear disease.

    Screenshot of Strong hearing strong start video
    2:54
    Read transcript

    [Muffled sound of children talking and playing.]

    [Onscreen text: This is what the world sounds like to a child with hearing loss from ear disease.]

    Kim – health worker: I think about my nieces and nephews and the dramas that they go through just ‘cause they can’t hear. And it makes… it makes it even harder because I want, I want the best for my mob and my community.

    [Onscreen text: Ear disease is serious and can cause loss of hearing forever.]

    Alan – health worker: Ear disease is a whole spectrum of problems; anything from a simple temporary impairment or infection all the way to deafness.

    [Onscreen text: Ear disease can be prevented and treated.]

    Chantelle – parent: Any discharge, any of the signs of kids, you know, rubbing at their ear, crying, usually rubbing at their ear, especially when they’re babies, when they rub at their ear you can tell.

    Cellia – health worker: They get the snuffles and then the sore throat and then the ears tend to get infected inside.

    [Onscreen text: Ear infections can lead to ear disease.]

    Pam – teacher: I know it’s hard as parents ‘cause sometimes there are no symptoms that you know that your child has problems with their ears, so it is really, really important that you take your child to the doctor regularly to make sure they get their ears checked.

    [Images of children getting ears checked.]

    Pam – teacher: Ear disease is preventable, but it’s really important that it’s detected early.

    Alan – health worker: Well prevention is: don’t smoke around children, make sure you wash your hands, have healthy food and never poke your cotton buds down your ears.

    [Onscreen text: Don’t stick anything in your kid's ear.]

    Kim – health worker: If a child’s ears perforate over time, again and again, that they actually end up with a certain percentage of hearing loss.

    Pam – teacher: If I’ve got students in the class and they can’t hear, it makes it really hard to try and get them to participate in activities, talk to other kids, also, listen to what I’m saying, ‘cause most of the time I’m doing the talking so if they can’t hear me they’re just sitting there wondering what’s going on.

    Chantelle – parent: Well, hearing is one of the most important senses.

    Lenard – parent: It’s important to have regular checks for your kids because, like, if they lose their hearing it makes communicating harder and talking and even understanding. It makes life a lot harder for them if they can’t hear.

    Alan – health worker: Every time they come to the doctor, they should get their ears checked.

    Latisha – doctor: Don’t be ashamed to ask your doctor or your health professional or the registered nurse to have a look at your child’s ears because you can potentially change their life and have healthy, healthy children that grow up to be strong, deadly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults.

    [Onscreen text: Get your kids’ ears checked regularly. Strong hearing, strong start.]

    [Muffled sound of children talking and playing.]

    www.careforkidsears.health.gov.au

    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

    Help us improve health.gov.au

    If you would like a response please use the enquiries form instead.