13 answers

Ear Infection and Speech Correlation?

I need info from you mamas that have dealt alot with ear infections, delayed speech and/or ear tubes.

I'm just asking because every time I take my son to the Dr. for either a well check or a cough, he also has an ear infection. He never runs a fever or acts like they hurt. My friend's little boy is a week younger than him and speaks his words so clearly and is already speaking in sentences. My son was a little slow to talk but he's talking quite a bit now. The trouble is he is only forming half of the word. Outside is side. Diet Coke is Die Co. Light is ight. Get my drift. My husband and I know what he is saying but noone else does. The Dr. seems to think he is right on track but I over analyze alot. I was just wondering if there might be a correlation with his speech and ear infections. Thanks for any wisdom you can offer :)

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I appreciate everyone's input. I think making an appt. for an evaluation and conference at my son's pedi is where I'm going to start. There may not be a problem but I think I would feel better if I found out now rather than later.

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My son didn't hardly speak at all at 2yrs old. He had many ear infections and when we finally took him to the ENT they did a hearing test and found he had mild hearing loss. As soon as tubes were put in he started forming words and completed words (the words he had been making weren't complete like your child). It has just been incredible the amount he's learned in one year. He's talking up a storm and isn't behind anymore. Its great! Well worth it!!! Feel free to write me for more info if you want our doctor's name. Good luck to you!!!

1 mom found this helpful

We just had surgery for both of my sons to get tubes and to be quite honest I waited WAY too long and have major regrets. My oldest was VERY slow to talk and eventually did start talking but much like your son he never said some words correctly. My pedi thought it might self correct over time, but it didn't. When we finally got his tubes a month ago, the ENT was mortified! His ears were a mess. My youngest also needed tubes due to the neverending ear infections which caused fluid to constantly be in his ear. Well, after his tubes they did an ABR and he has permanent hearing loss in his right ear. I feel like such a failure for not realizing that he had a hearing problem, but I would HIGHLY recommend skipping the pedi and going straight to a GOOD ENT to get his hearing checked by an audiologist. It is worth every penny. We will be starting my oldest in speech therapy soon and my youngest has another ABR scheduled at the end of May and we have a better idea of how to proceed with him then. I do think 2 is young to panic, but the constant ear infections can cause speech delay. Good luck and PM me if you have any questions.

1 mom found this helpful

I am a deaf ed teacher. Yes, the ear infections are probably effecting his speech if they are that constant, but he is only 2. You may be over-analyzing, but you also probably have a point. You probably want to talk with his doc a bit more about tubes. Does he need any speech intervention? Not now, but after the tubes, you may want to re-evaluate in a year. Give him time.

Also, Tina is wrong in her advice on how to handle his speech. You should never correct a child that young on their speech. It will only demoralize him & make him feel bad. Always MODEL the correct speech!! Example:

Son: Ight, Mama!
Mama: The light? Yes, I see the pretty light.

1 mom found this helpful

Both of my children had ear infections almost constantly. They both had tubes put in. My son was tested for speech when he was about 4 because he was not speaking as clearly as other 4 year olds, but according to the evaluation, he was right on track! My daughter was tested at about the same age and definitely showed a delay. She is still in speech classes at the age of 7 because she is just so eager to learn new words that she does not take the time to learn how to pronounce them properly.

So, yes ear infections and tubes CAN have an impact on hearing and speech, but also every child is different. If you are really concerned, I would contact the local elementary school and they will get you all the information to get him evaluated. It is completely free even for little bitty ones. That is how I had both of mine tested, and as I said before my daughter is still in classes.

1 mom found this helpful

To answer your question - yes. Ear infections can affect hearing problems in children. My son has a speech delay and they ALWAYS ask me this in his evaluations if he had many ear infections as an infant or toddler. He didn't. He's just delayed compared to his peers.

But they always ask those questions. Also... you could probably get private speech therapy covered by your health insurance since they could connect an actual medical incident (or many incidents) to his speech delay. I would suggest first start by getting a hearing test done at the pediatrician's office then ask about getting a referral to have ECI (early childhood intervention) to come out to your home to do a FREE speech evaluation. Your pediatrician's office should have all the contact info for this - in your area.
the FREE evaluation is easy, painless and it's the best way to see if your child need a little extra help. If after the ECI assessment they find a delay, they will work with you to start a speech therapy program for your son. ECI is very affordable -- payments are on a sliding scale based on income. ECI can come out to your home for the sessions -- they do this because most children are more comfortable in their home setting.

At 3 yr old, he will be too old for ECI help -- they will refer you to the ISD school district in your area to help with speech therapy. 3 & 4 yr olds can qualify for free preschool w/free speech therapy in your ISD if they are found to have a delay.

1 mom found this helpful

Get ear tubes. There's a time for learning speech and it's now.

My son had tons of infections, like yours. He's never learned to speak as well as everyone else and I wish we'd done the tubes.

I have been going down the same path as you! I am so thankful, however, that I happen to be a specialist in the field of Behavioral Therapy. While this has nothing to do with speech development, almost al the clients I see are also dealing with speech issues, so I'm very familiar with them. I was also very concerned, and EVERYONE dismissed my concern, including the Pediatrician. I pushed, and the Pedi finally referred us to an ENT, who performed a hearing test. Sure enough, he has mild/ moderate hearing loss from the fluid in his ears, and will now be having surgery for tubes. Thankfully, we caught this early enough to prevent severe speech delays. I am enrolling him in speech therapy to catch his articulation up. God gives Mommies the intuition to know when something isn't right- good luck!

I also had horrible ear infections when I was growing up. I never complained of the pain but they do hurt. I didn't realize how severe they could be and my ear drum burst, however it has healed and I have perfect hearing now. I ended up with tubes in my ears and they helped tremendously! The thing about ear infections though, when I had them, I couldn't hear all of every word that people were saying so I just said what I heard. This is probably what is wrong with your son, my suggestion is to get tubes put in his ears. They will help! When he has them, he won't be able to get his ears wet but if you buy some of the wax ear plugs that mold to your ears, he can still play in the pool and everything else as long as he wears them. They'll fall out on their own and he won't feel a thing. Another thing, they took out my adnoid pads (in your nose) because they thought that might also help with my speach.

Hi H.,
I too had a problem with every time going to the dr and them telling me he has an ear infection. Just because the ear drum is red and has some fluid in the middle ear does NOT mean it is infected. I learned this after being told that my son needed tubes in his ears and I wanted to check into it before deciding to do it. The problem is that when young child does get an ear infection it takes anywhere from 3 to 6 months for the fluid to drain (making the ear appear infected) thus can cause some speech delays while the ear is draining. After doing some research I decided not to put tubes in my sons ears and treat him for allergies with Zrytec. I also did a chiropractic ear lobe manipulation that I found on the internet to help promote fluid drainage (hey, if it helps ").
Within a month the fluid was gone and he is starting to talk alot! For some reason I read that antihistamines and decongestants are not suppose to help with ear fluid but it made sense to me so I gave it a try and it worked great for me. I know that this may not be the case with your son but I wanted to share my story with you.

HAve you seen an ENT? If you haven't do so immediately. We have had similar issues, as has my sister. Her son is 7 and has his 3rd set of tubes, he had delayed speech and had to work with a speech therapist which was recommended by her doctor and local school district. My son had 2 sets and at 5 is now doing well after having his tonsils out to help with drainage. Our ENT also has a great Audiologist in the office, I would be happy to pass his information if you need it.

I have not personally experienced this but has your physician ever performed a hearing test on your boy?

My DD who is turning 5 has some difficulties with certain letters, but is improving. Her cousin who is 6 months older than her does not talk clearly at all and still needs someone to break the code. Every child is different.

It could just be that those letters are hard for your son to recall at this age. I would definitely keep an eye on it though as ear infections could hamper him hearing the letters properly. Try to take him in for a hearing test when he is not having a flare up...I know you said he gets them without any symptoms, but does he play with his ear or grab it during the flare ups?

Praying for you and your son.


Ear infections do help with hearing words correctly, but also not correcting the child helps as well. He is two, so he has time to learn, (I am not saying you don't do some of these suggestions, so please don't take offence. I don't know what you are doing, but I am giving a suggestion to help). If and when he mispronounces a word, correct it. Just because you know what the word is, does not mean it is right and good to leave it be. If he says Ligh, instead of light, say no honey, its light making sure you are pushing for the "T" sound. It gets tedious, but being consistant is the name of the game. How will he know if you ignore it....correct it everytime, not just when you feel like it. By ignoring it once in awhile, will aid in the problem. Good luck


p.s. Just for the record, I was not suggesting you talk down to your son, I would never suggest such a thing, and according to another response, that is what it sounded like. I appolgise for the misunderstanding or offence to your other readers. I was just suggesting that when he says a word incorrectly, to repeat it back to him correctly, so he knows the right sounds that should come out. Again let me appologise for any offence to you or the readers. Advice is Advice, what works for one may not work for others. soak in the good advice and away with what you feel wont work, or what you feel is wrong. Thanks again for reading anyway.

I know you did not ask for this but wanted to share that I just learned this year that 95% of ear infections are due to food intolerances/sensitivities. Both my girls started getting ear infections and after the testing and taking the offending foods out; no more infections. Just thought I would share....

We go to Dr. Bain in Frisco. www.healthykidspediatrics.com and she ordered the testing through Immuno Laboratories who will guarantee their results or they refund you your money.

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