EXPERT ADVICE: Can my baby become deaf from an ear infection?

If baby’s tugging on their ear, they may have an ear infection. Find out what causes this common childhood problem.

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Ear infections are a very common amongt babies. In fact, National University Hospital’s associate consultant at the department of otolaryngology (ENT) ― Head & Neck Surgery, Dr Tay Sok Yan notes, “Five out of six children will have at least one ear infection by their third birthday.”

Both Dr Tay and Dr David Lau, an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist T Gleneagles Hospital, spell out the common types of ear infections:

1) Acute Otitis Media

WHAT? One moment, bubba’s down with a cold, the next you realise he’s running a high fever and crying inconsolably — these are the signs of a possible middle ear infection. Dr Lau says that middle ear infection as a result of a cold is common among young children. “[That’s because] during a cold, [mucus] becomes trapped in the middle ear, allowing viruses and bacteria to multiply.”

“Fortunately, in most instances, middle ear infections resolve even without treatment, as the child’s cold gets better.”

If it isn’t treated in time, the infection can worsen and lead to meningitis, the inflammation of the delicate membrane covering your little one’s brain. Signs that your child’s ear infection is deteriorating include:
* Fever of 39 deg C.
* Increasing restlessness.
* Lethargy.
* Constantly tugging their ears.
* Trouble hearing.
* Ear discharge. 

If untreated, you’ll soon start to see redness and swelling behind the ears indicating mastoiditis ― an infection of the bone behind the ears.
TREATMENT This is a serious form of infection, so be sure to bring your mini-me to the doctor as soon as possible.

2) Otitis Media with Effusion (OME)

WHAT? Otherwise known as glue ear. It is a condition where the fluid from a middle-ear infection stays trapped behind the eardrum, instead of flowing out. Dr Tay notes, “Parents of children with OME will [usually tell] us their child is not responding to sounds the usual way at home or in school.”
TREATMENT For the majority of children, it’ll just take longer to cure the infection with medication — sometimes up to three to six months. In recurrent cases of infection, a myringotomy is required. This is a surgical procedure where an incision is made to the ear drum to relieve the fluid build-up.