Children use their hearing to learn about the world around them and learn speech and language from listening to others talk. A hearing problem can delay speech and language learning in a number of ways. Children may have delayed language both with understanding and with what they say. Even in mild hearing loss, soft speech sounds such as “s,” “sh,” “f,” “t,” and “k” are missed.

Middle ear infections (otitis media) are common in young children and can sometimes lead to a condition called “glue ear”. When a child has glue ear, fluid is trapped in the middle ear and their hearing is temporarily affected for this time. Glue ear can be a silent condition and there may not be obvious indicators such as pain and fever.

It is a good idea to have your child’s ears checked by a doctor if your child:

  • Is not responding to sounds from a distance but is responding to the same sounds in proximity.
  • Needs the volume turned up on the TV.
  • Is rubbing or pulling on their ear/s frequently, especially if they have had a cold for a few weeks.
  • Seems less attentive than usual.
  • Is talking more loudly than usual.
  • Is asking you to repeat what you say.
  • Indicates that their ear/s feel full or “funny”.
  • Is having problems with balance or is more clumsy than usual.
  • Has fluid coming out of their ear.

Regular hearing tests are really important as sometimes there are few, or even none, of the above signs. We recommend a hearing test once during the preschool years (aged 2-3 years) and once again at around the time they start school.