Also called ear fluid, OME can affect your child’s ability to hear normally. This hearing loss could affect speech and language development in some children, especially when the fluid is in both ears and lasts a long time. This information will help you better understand how ear fluid might affect your child.
Speech (sometimes called articulation) is the physical production of sounds in sequence to form words. Children with delayed speech may omit sounds or substitute easy sounds for harder sounds (i.e., t/s as in “I tee the tun in the ty.”). These errors can affect the clarity of your child’s speech.
Findings that Suggest Delayed Speech Development
Language is the meaning or message conveyed back and forth through speech, writing, or even gestures. Receptive language is the ability to understand what others say. Children with delayed receptive language may have difficulty, compared to other children, following directions or understanding the words or sentence structures used by others. Expressive language is the ability to choose the right words when communicating, and then put the words together appropriately for sentences and meaning. Children with delayed expressive language may have short utterances or sentences.
Findings that Suggest Delayed Language Development
Wear hearing protectors, especially if you must work in an excessively noisy environment. You should also wear them when using power tools, noisy yard equipment, or firearms, or riding a motorcycle or snowmobile. Hearing protectors come in two forms: earplugs and earmuffs.
If there are delays in your child’s speech or language development because of fluid, these delays usually disappear once the ear fluid goes away on its own or ear tubes are inserted. If a delay persists, your child should be referred to a speech-language pathologist for evaluation and treatment, as necessary. Reading to or with your child is also important because reading and spelling are strongly linked to speech and language development.
Rosenfeld RM, Shin JJ, Schwartz SR, et al. Clinical practice guideline (update): otitis media with effusion. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2016;154(1 Suppl):215-225.