Is it time for ear tubes? Focusing on on kids' hearing health

photo credit: Jessica Ashley

photo credit: Jessica Ashley

This post made possible through the support of Cochlear . All opinions are my own.

My toddler has melted into my arms. She is wailing. She is uncomfortable. Something is not right and she can’t tell me what hurts. What I suspect in that moment is confirmed a few hours later in the pediatrician’s office — this is her sixth ear infection in six months.

The normal “weeks of sickness” my mom friends remind me is the initiation into daycare have become months and months of chronic colds and infections that lead to ear infections in my daughter. Any sniffle or worse fires up the fluid and pain for my girl. We’ve made our way through the available antibiotics, and while we wait for a consultation with an ear-nose-throat specialist, our last option is a tiny vial of ear drops that costs $250 and the insurance deems unnecessary and won’t cover.

The cost of the medicine hits our budget hard, as will the out-of-pocket expenses of seeing a specialist, having a required round of hearing tests, and possibly — likely — having tubes placed in my daughter’s ailing ears.

But none of this worries me. I just want her to be well. I just want her to be healthy and be able to take in and participate in all of the joy around her. She’s not even two and she’s already spent too much time sobbing, sick, recovering, in doctor’s offices and on antibiotics when there are craft projects and toddler yoga and music time at daycare, kicking the soccer ball after school with her big brother and impromptu car seat dance parties, book after book before bedtime, new foods to try, new words to say and new places to climb at the park.

Ear infections and even tubes are not outside the spectrum of normal health issues for children her age. I get this and I am grateful for all of her able-bodyness and adeptness. And still, it is a concern because I had the same issues with my ears, and so did my mother. We both had chronic ear infections as babies, and like my daughter, had burst eardrums that made us cry out in agony in our mother’s arms in the middle of the night. And we both have diminished hearing.

I’ve noticed my hearing fading for a few years, like a soft and slow dial turning voices around me down. And while my mom has worn hearing aids for a decade, she still struggles to catch all the conversation and block out distracting background noises.

For all of the things I want my toddler to hear today, there is so much more I want her to be tuned into tomorrow and next year and for many decades to come.  I am not sure if the ear issues three generations of us have experienced are certainly linked to hearing loss later in life (doctors and specialists have given us a range of answers), but I am the mom now, and I cannot help but be concerned for what is happening today and what could be years from now.

We will do what we are advised — see the specialists, get the tubes, pay for the medication and treatments— because health and hearing is a precious priority in raising my children and in caring for myself. 

And as we do, I will send a mother’s prayerful thoughts out to the universe, to connect my hopes of health and healing and attention to all those parents and children coping with profound hearing loss. To those who are managing illness and injuries that have brought on complications. And to those who are considering care options far beyond tubes and drops. I will be hoping your precious priorities are met with all the support and resources and insurance coverage you need.


To learn more about keeping health and hearing a priority in your own parenting, to understand more about children’s communication milestones and for important resources like where to find a hearing specialist near you, visit Cochlear at Cochlear is passionate about connecting parents who want their kids to have access to hearing to help with language and development so they can live their lives without limits.