Dr David Roberson ENT

Hear's the Story About Common Childhood Ear Conditions

Childrens Health
Did you know that five out of six children have at least one ear infection by age 3? Physician David Roberson, MD, MBA, FACS, FRCS, of Bayhealth ENT, Milford treats all ear, nose and throat conditions, and specializes in pediatric ENT, having spent more than 20 years at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School before joining Bayhealth.

In a healthy ear, there is air behind the eardrum, explained Dr. Roberson. The term “ear infection” usually refers to infections in the middle ear behind the eardrum. Babies are prone to them because their eustachian tubes aren’t developed enough to drain the fluid that can collect in that space.

“Fluid in children’s ears is common, and there are three typical scenarios,” said Dr. Roberson. “It may never cause a problem; it may affect a child’s hearing because the eardrum cannot move freely; or bacteria will grow in the fluid and cause painful infections that may keep a child up crying all night and may need antibiotic treatment.”

Ear pain, fever, vomiting, trouble sleeping, and irritability can indicate a middle ear infection. Any signs of poor hearing or speech and language delays in children should also trigger a doctor visit. “In a child that is learning to talk, ear fluid can affect hearing, impair speech development or cause permanent language delays, so early evaluation is critical,” Dr. Roberson said.

It’s important to visit an ENT specialist if there is chronic fluid affecting hearing or a child’s speech development is behind. Also, after three middle ear infections in six months or four in a year, seeing an ENT specialist is recommended. An ENT doctor can further assess and discuss treatment options like ear tubes, which help prevent persistent fluid buildup in many patients.

Depending on your insurance, a referral may be required to make an appointment with an ENT specialist. Start by talking with your pediatrician to determine the best course of action.

Visit Bayhealth's Find a Doctor page to find a pediatrician or family medicine doctor that fits your needs.