Middle Ear Infections can cause Symptoms of ADHD


Hearing loss caused by recurrent or persistent middle ear infections in young children may cause symptoms that look just like ADHD.

In previous posts, we’ve discussed how any problem that interferes with a child’s hearing, vision, and other primary senses can cause any and all of the symptoms of ADHD causing him or her to be misdiagnosed as ADHD. These problems are often referred to as “sensory processing disorders” (SPD) and may be present from birth (primary) or acquired as the result of an infection, trauma or some other serious event (secondary).

To refresh your memory, anything that interferes with a child’s ability to interact properly with his or her surroundings-poor hearing-vision problems-touch sensory problems- can cause learning problems and of course, a sensory deficit. For example, the child with what seems to be never-ending ear infections suffers hearing loss and therefore a sensory processing disorder because of the damage caused by persistent infection and pressure in his or her middle ear.

Young children with chronic middle ear infections may sustain damage to the bones and nerves responsible for transmitting sound waves that hit the eardrum to the parts of the brain that interpret electrical impulses into what is heard. These kids just won’t be able to hear well and what they do hear is often muffled or distorted.

It’s no wonder they can’t understand what is being said in class or follow instructions or seem to be inattentive or are easily distracted or poorly organized. They simply do appear to have the core symptoms of ADHD in children. This misinterpretation of what is driving the hearing-impaired child’s behavior and learning problem is what causes the child to appear to have ADHD, confuses the diagnosis and often causing ADHD misdiagnosis.

How might you prevent chronic middle ear infections, hearing loss and the wrongful diagnosis of ADHD in your child?

Obviously, the best answer is to prevent your child’s ear infections in the first place. The second best solution is to be sure if your child does have a middle ear infection that it is detected and treated promptly and effectively.

If you would like to get a copy of my patient hand-out; “How to prevent middle ear infections in young children”, please visit www.drhuggiebear.com. Tomorrow afternoon, you’ll find a link on the homepage that allows you to download a copy. Please feel free to share it with your friends.

Here’s wishing you success in solving your child’s hearing related behavior disorder, preventing him or her from being labeled as ADHD and at the same time protecting them from recurrent middle ear infections!

Dr. Frank

Here are a few of my previous articles on hearing problems confusing the diagnosis of ADHD causing ADHD misdiagnosis and wrongful ADHD bias and discrimination:

Hearing Problems may cause ADHD Misdiagnosis


Vision, Hearing, Speech, and Sensory Processing Disorders Cause ADHD Misdiagnosis


Secondhand Smoke may cause Hearing Loss-ADHD Behavior in Children and Teens


Vision Problems May Cause ADHD Misdiagnosis



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