Speech is a powerful tool for your child to learn.
Their growth and development in the realms of speech and language can be exciting to watch and to be a part of.
As your child learns to communicate, there may be times when things don’t go as planned.
When that happens, District Speech is here to help with speech therapy for kids.
Ear infections are one issue that can impact your child’s speech development, and they may be an unexpected culprit if your child’s speech development seems to have slowed down or become irregular.
In this article we’re going to talk about what ear infections are, how they can affect your child’s speech development, and how a speech therapist may be able to help.
What Is An Ear Infection?
Ear infections, also called acute otitis media is an infection that occurs in the small space behind the ear drum, in the middle ear.
The eustachian tube runs from behind the ear drum to the back of the throat and is the route for fluid drainage from the middle ear.
If there is an issue with this drainage tube, fluid can build up in the middle ear and become infected.
This type of infection is also a fairly common complication of the common cold, when viruses from the nose and throat enter the ear through the eustachian tube and interfere with fluid drainage.
After that the ear infection proceeds like any other, in which bacteria infect the fluid that builds up in the mid ear.
Why Are Ear Infections More Common In Children?
Ear infections are more common in infants and children because of the way that the ear develops with age.
In children the eustachian tube is both shorter and narrower than it is in adults, as well as being angled more horizontally.
This lower angle and shorter length make it easier for bacteria and viruses to enter the middle ear, and the narrower width makes it easier for the tube to get blocked.
These factors work together to put infants and children at a higher risk of ear infections that becomes less prevalent as the child ages.
Signs Of An Ear Infection
Especially in small children it can be difficult to know what exactly is causing them pain or discomfort.
In the case of ear infection, even non-infected fluid buildup in the middle ear (called otitis media with fluid) can cause speech and hearing problems and can be harder to notice.
In young children the symptoms of ear infection include tugging at their ears, crying more than usual, fever, lack of response to sounds or words that they would otherwise respond to, and fluid leaking from the ear.
Because lack of infection likely means it isn’t causing acute pain, otitis media with fluid is often characterized by some amount of hearing loss but no other noticeable symptoms.
How Can Ear Infections Affect Hearing & Speech?
Buildup of fluid in the middle ear can distort sounds, making them sound as though they’re being heard underwater.
While this isn’t the case with all ear infections or fluid buildup, it may be the case if your child has other symptoms of an ear infection as well or is experiencing otherwise unexplained hearing loss.
Without an infection, fluid buildup can also show up as a stall in progress of speech abilities or a frequent need to have sentences repeated.
Because early childhood is a pivotal time in the development of speech and language skills, it’s important to see a doctor if you suspect that your child is experiencing hearing loss due to fluid in their ears or any other cause.
With early intervention speech therapy, there are options available for you and your child both to alleviate the immediate symptoms and to recover lost or stalled speech abilities.
In the process of your child’s treatment you may find it helpful to work with your pediatrician, an ear, nose, and throat specialist (ENT), a speech therapist, or any combination of those the above.
How Can A Speech Therapist Help?
Ear infections in children, especially if they are frequent or chronic in nature, may interfere with important listening time.
This difficulty hearing may cause delays in your child’s development of speech skills.
If this happens, a speech therapist can help your child catch up on missed time for developing their language skills.
If your child has experienced temporary hearing loss as a result of an ear infection and seems to be missing speech milestones, the early intervention of a speech therapist can help them catch up.
Book Your Appointment With District Speech
It can be frustrating and isolating when it feels like your child isn’t developing skills in the way that you hoped they would.
Thankfully, there are a variety of treatments available for ear infections, and once the root cause of the hearing loss is addressed, you and your child can start working to catch up from any losses to their speech development during that time.
At District Speech we’re here to help your child get back to learning to communicate as well as they can.
Book and appointment today
today and work with us to get your child’s speech development back on track.
1300 I St NW, #400E,
Washington, DC 20005
District Speech and Language Therapy specializes in speech therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy solutions, for both children and adults, in the Washington D.C and the Arlington Virginia areas.