Can Ear Problems Affect a Child’s Behavior?
Ear infections and ear disorders can result in pain and/or impaired hearing or loss of hearing that can in turn cause behavioral changes in your child. Watching for the behavioral changes that can be caused by ear problems can help you help your child.
Symptoms of Ear Problems in Children
Symptoms of ear problems in children can include ear pain, fever, sudden clumsiness, difficulty hearing and, for small children, difficulty speaking clearly. When a child displays any of these behaviors, he should be examined by a health care provider, as even common ear infections, left untreated, can result in permanent hearing damage.
Behavioral Changes Caused by Ear Problems
A child with acute or chronic ear and hearing problems may be irritable, listless, appear to not be paying attention to others and lose interest in regular activities.
Ear Problems and Behavioral Changes at School
A common sign of chronic ear and hearing problems in children is problems at school. School work may suffer, teachers may complain that the child is not paying attention in class, and there may be an increase in behaviors such as tardiness or missing the school bus.
When to See a Doctor
Anytime a child exhibits the symptoms of an ear problem, she should be seen by a health care provider. However, if symptoms–behavioral changes especially–do not seem to go away even after treatment, the child should be evaluated further.
When caught early, most common ear and hearing problems can be treated before serious health and behavioral problems occur. The type of treatment–and prognosis–will depend on the cause of the ear and hearing problems.