Ear infections, the most common reason children seek pediatric care other than well-baby visits, can be acute, recurring, or associated with chronic fluid buildup behind the ear drum. Ear infections can lead to various symptoms, including fevers, not sleeping at night, and hearing loss that affects the child's speech and language.
Part of the evaluation of a child with frequent ear infections is testing his or her hearing. These hearing tests are done in different ways, depending on the age of the child. If medical treatment (usually antibiotics) does not solve the problem, pediatric specialists at the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital usually place pressure-equalizing tubes across the drum while the child is under general anesthesia. This procedure ventilates the middle ear and decreases the frequency of ear infections.
In children with severe and chronic problems, more comprehensive surgeries and reconstructions of the mechanism of hearing may be necessary.
We are also experts in evaluating children with Down syndrome, who often have narrow canals that are difficult to visualize in the pediatrician's office. Our ear, nose, and throat specialists participate in the evaluation of ear problems in children with craniofacial abnormalities as part of the University of Chicago Craniofacial Team. This team assists children with problems such as cleft lip and palate and congenital ear atresia.