Hearing Aids And Middle Ear Infections In Children


Colds and upper respiratory infections can lead to ear infections, especially in children. But if your child wears a hearing aid, he or she can experience additional problems. Since ear infections are common among children, it's important to recognize the symptoms and understand the impact an ear infection can have on wearing a hearing aid.

What are common signs that your child has an ear infection?

The symptoms that a child has an ear infection vary but may include:

  • Cold symptoms

  • Frequent waking through the night

  • Fussiness

  • Fever

  • Complaints of ear pain

  • Pus or fluid draining from the ear

What happens when your child has a cold?

Generally, a child who has an ear infection has a cold first. When his or her nasal passages swell, mucus collects, creating a breeding ground for bacteria normally present in the nose and throat to multiply. Mucus can also collect in the middle ear space, forming pus that traps bacteria.

Babies and young children are particularly susceptible to fluid building up in the middle ear since the Eustachian tubes that connect the middle ear to the upper part of the throat are shorter and more narrow. Consequently, fluid can't drain as easily.

How can an ear infection affect a child's hearing aid wear?

Swelling in the ear that may accompany an ear infection can interfere with how well a hearing aid fits. A hearing aid or ear mold that doesn't fit properly can feel downright uncomfortable. It may even make your child's ear sore.

An ear infection can also change the acoustics of your child's ear, leading to diminished hearing while the infection runs its course.

What are some tips for preventing ear infections, especially if your child wears a hearing aid?

Talk to a professional, such as Waters ENT Sinus & Allergy, for further help and information.  

  1. Keep your child's ears as dry as possible. Water that passes through to the middle ear can cause ear infections. Although it's important for your child's ears to be clean, bacteria thrive in dark, moist environments.

  2. Clean your child's hearing aid regularly to help reduce the risk of ear infections. Hearing aids often harbor bacteria that can re-infect your child's ears. Keep in mind that an ear infection that gets worse may be bacterial and not viral. In that case, you may need to contact your child's doctor who can prescribe ear drops or antibiotic medication to clear up the infection.

  3. Remove your child's hearing aids for a few minutes at a time throughout the day to improve air flow through blocked passages.

  4. Keep your child away from other children who are sick, especially if he or she has a low immune system or has had ear infections in the past.

  5. Avoid exposing your child to cigarette smoke, as research suggests that secondhand smoke increases a child's risk of developing middle ear infections. Chemicals in the smoke irritate the Eustachian tubes and lining of the middle ear. Swelling may occur, which can lead to fluid accumulating in the ear.