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Otitis Media

Joanne Lee S00017138

ADAB203: Indigenous Contemporary
I would like to respectfully acknowledge the
Dharug people who are the traditional owners of
this land. I would also like to acknowledge their
elders both past and present. I am especially
humbled to be welcomed on to this land and be
able to have this opportunity to further my
education and look forward to taking what I have
learnt back to my own community.
How does Otitis Media affect the
education experience for
Aboriginal children?
What is Otitis Media?

Burns 2013 states, in 2000, a study to

measure the occurrence of middle ear
disease and hearing loss for Indigenous
school children aged 4-12 years in a
selection of schools in NSW, found that
more than 61% of children had ear
problems of some type.

Otitis media is the medical term for middle-ear disease. It comes from the Greek
word otitis which means inflammation of the ear and the Latin word media which
means middle. Thus, otitis media simply means inflammation or infection of the
middle ear. This disease is a common childhood ailment which may affect many
children before the age of five years. Seventy-five per cent of all children will have at
least one episode of Otitis Media by the age of five (Board of Studies, 1994).
ABS Statistics 2012-13
Comparison between Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander to non-Indigenous people.
Risk Factors
Macro-Social Level: Influences that are developed and
lead from a national and state perspective; factors
typically driven by government priorities that are often
the levers used to address the health needs of the
population, improve equity and add quality to services
and outcomes.
Community Level: Factors surrounding the individual in
their immediate natural and build environment; factors
that are not in the individual's control to influence but a
person's access to these factors is paramount for these
protective factors to be effective and enable an
individual behaviour to be carried out.
Individual Behaviours: Individual behaviours that are
required to protect ears and promote good hearing;
behaviours that an individual has control over and the
ability to directly influence.

Exposure to tobacco smoke

Otitis Media

Complaint of Discharge from

ear pain ear

Pulling at the

Redness of the Congestion

ears related to a cold

Signs of
Fever Middle Ear Grizzly/Grumpy
Signs of hearing loss associated with
middle ear disease might include:

decreased asking to
asking to alertness repeat things
sounds up

signs of others for
boredom cues

How is Otitis Media treated?
Antibiotic treatments and Haemophilus influenzae
type b (Hib) vaccination can help reduce the
number of otitis media episodes. Although, the
benefit of antibiotics must be weighed against the
cost and inconvenience of the treatment and the
risk of occasional side effects. There are questions
about which antibiotic is most appropriate, the
optimal length of the treatment, and the number
of episodes required. There is also a risk that the
use of antibiotics could promote the emergence of
antibiotic resistance in otitis media.
Neonatal screening for early identification of
congenital malformations and early intervention
enables timely treatment and management.
Routine child health checks that incorporate ear
and hearing assessments allow for early
identification, management and treatment, and if
necessary, fitting of hearing aids.
Treatments continued
A variety of treatment programs to improve the ear health of
Indigenous children has been developed and implemented,
including screening, surveillance, and medical and surgical
therapy. These strategies require coordination of multiple health
service providers, including Aboriginal health workers, general
practitioners, audiologists and ear, nose and throat specialists.
The development and use of Indigenous-specific clinical care
guidelines are important components of effective treatment.
The best way to prevent children getting ear disease is to have
their ears checked every time they see the health worker,
nurse or doctor. The following are also recommended:
Keep children clean (wash their hands and
faces regularly)
Ensure children eat healthy foods like fruit and vegetables.
If unavailable, use frozen or canned fruit and vegetables.

Make sure children get all their vaccinations; get children to blow their nose,
then wash their hands. Nose blowing opens up the Eustachian tube. This
helps get fresh air into the middle ear space. (balloon activity)

Breastfeeding helps babies fight disease, so it is important to

do so for as long as possible.
Avoid smoking around children.
Avoid sticking anything in a childs ears, unless recommended by
a health worker, nurse or doctor.
Current Issues
Isolation families in communities having to travel long distances
to major cities that have specialists (ENT).

Education - There is concern that there may be limited awareness about

the extent and impact of ear disease in the Indigenous population. Poor
knowledge of causes, prevention and interventions are other issues of concern.
Education of parents in understanding and knowing the signs and symptoms of
Otitis Media so to raise awareness. In saying that there are also some cases where
there are no signs or symptoms.

Funding/Programs NSW Health Aboriginal Ear Health Program

Healthy Ears, Happy Kids works to reduce the number of young Aboriginal
children affected by Otitis Media in a number of ways: working with families,
working with community and improving services. Whether this is implemented
within schools or communities is another story.

Do you have these same issues in your community?

Are there any issues that you have come across?
Problems in the Classroom
selective attention limited understanding of
reduced recall conversational rules
reduced comprehension limited range of communicative
poor phoneme discrimination functions
delayed speech development delayed development of
limited and inappropriate use of sound/syllable/sound segmentation
information delayed development of
delayed acquisition of language phonological blending
concepts less awareness of listeners needs
delayed development of vocabulary
inability to hear low intensity sounds,
such as ed, s, v, th
Classroom management
In view of the high
conductive hearing loss
among Indigenous children,
implementing school-based
initiatives that address
classroom acoustics,
such as installing
amplification systems,
changing class seating
arrangements, negotiating
listening behaviours and
implementing buddy
systems have been
Awabakal Newcastle

Aboriginal Health Services

Australian Hearing

Marathon Health Dubbo Healthy Ears Better Hearing, Better Listening Program
(primary health for Indigenous children and youth (0-21yrs) for diagnosis, treatment
and management of ear and hearing health.

Care for Kids Ears
Australian Bureau of Statistics
Board of Studies (1994). Otitis Media and Aboriginal Children: A Handbook
for Teachers and Communities. retrieved 18/9/2016 from

Breathe Blow Cough Wash and Chew Program
Burns J, Thomson N (2013) Review of ear health and hearing among Indigenous
Australians. Retrieved [18/9/2016] from