Despite the fact that your child has hearing aids, he or she can still get ear infections. Colds and other upper respiratory viruses can send bacteria into the ear canals, creating the perfect petri dish for ear infections to develop. When it comes down to your child's ability to hear or his or her comfort, which do you choose? Here are some guidelines to help you make that decision and feel good about the decision you make.
Diagnosing the Severity of the Ear Infection
If your child's ear infection is is so bad that your pediatrician says the ear drums have ruptured or are about to rupture, putting hearing aids in your child's ears is tantamount to poking balloons with pins. Leave the hearing aids out until the antibiotics have had a chance to help the ears heal and reduce the swelling of the ear drums. Likewise, if the ears are leaking fluid, pus or bloody discharge, leave the hearing aids out to let the ears drain. Additionally, it saves you the time and the mess of cleaning the hearing aids and freeing them of the bacteria that could reinfect your child's ears.
Mild to Moderate Ear Infections
Consider that your child's ear drums and ear canals are probably really sensitive right now. You could put the hearing aids back in, but your child will probably try very hard to pull them back out because his or her ears hurt. Given that it will only be a few days before he or she can comfortably wear the hearing aids again, your child will not lose any language or speech development skills during this short time. It is just best to leave the hearing aids out and make your baby as comfortable as possible.
Chronic Ear Infections
If your little one suffers from chronic ear infections, you may want to talk to both your pediatrician and your child's audiologist about ways to address this. Since the hearing aids are vital to your child learning to speak, but the chronic ear infections are preventing him or her from hearing, your pediatrician and audiologist may suggest inserting ear tubes to keep your child's ears healthy or prescribe drops in the ears before you put the hearing aids in every day. If your child is a good candidate for cochlear implants, this may help eliminate the need for hearing aids and then your child's ear infections can be treated without halting their speech and language development.