Children Hearing Frequently Asked Questions

Who can use this service in our clinics?

Infants (7+ months), toddlers and young children.

Do I need a referral?

No. You can access this service without a referral.

What is ear fluid?

Ear fluid, also called otitis media, is a build-up of fluid behind the eardrum, without ear infection noticeable symptoms. Almost all children get ear fluid at least once by school age.

How can I tell if my child has fluid in their ears?

You might not be able to tell. Some children with otitis media have obvious hearing problems, but other children might have no symptoms at all or subtler findings such as ear rubbing, clumsiness, selective hearing, disturbed sleep. Your audiologist or GP can detect ear fluid by looking in the ear canal (otoscopy) or by measuring the movement of the eardrum (tympanometry).

What causes ear fluid?

Ear fluid may be caused by a cold, ear infection, or normal congestion (negative pressure) that many young children have. Often ear fluid is detected during a routine doctor’s visit, and the exact cause may be unknown.

Should I worry if my child has ear fluid?

Most fluid goes away on its own in weeks or months, particularly if it was caused by a cold or an ear infection. Otitis media is of more concern if it lasts more than 3 months or when your child has other problems that could be made worse by persistent ear fluid, for example, delays in speech, language, learning, or development. Your GP should check the ears periodically until the fluid is gone.