The Dragonfly Story

What is Otitis Media / Conductive Hearing Loss?

The name otitis media comes from the Greek word otitis which means inflammation of the ear and the Latin word media which means middle. From this we get the term – middle ear infection.

In recent years otitis media (OM) has been recognised as one of the major health problems faced by young children. It may affect infants from a few days old through to their teenage years and sometimes beyond. OM is much more common in children as their immune systems are not as well developed as in adults. Research has shown that as many as 75% of all children in Australia will have at least one episode of otitis media by the time they are three years old. A recent study showed that 42% of primary school aged Aboriginal children tested showed evidence of middle ear disease. The occurrence was highest in younger children, with 66.7% of children aged 4 – 7 years experiencing middle ear problems on the day of testing.1

OM can reduce a young child’s ability to hear clearly. This reduction in a child’s hearing ability is called conductive hearing loss (CHL). 

Conductive hearing loss from OM may last for as little as a day or two or up to three months or more. In chronic cases of OM, a child’s hearing ability rarely returns to normal. As a result, a child affected by OM may experience periods of normal hearing followed by periods of inability to hear properly.

 1 Williams, C., & Jacobs, A. (2009). The impact of otitis media on cognitive and educational outcomes. Medical Journal of Australia, 191(9), S69 – S72.