So how does a child get an ear infection? The middle ear is congested and filled with fluid, particularly with colds or allergies. This fluid then can become infected with lots of inflammation and germs. The Eustachian tube that allows drainage of this fluid from the middle ear area does not function well during colds.
The length and position of the tube in younger kids also contributes to the poor drainage. As children get older, this Eustachian tube gets longer, wider, and becomes more vertical, which allows better drainage. Hence, some kids actually do seem to "outgrow" ear infections (or at least get fewer).
We often try to manage frequent ear infections medically (e.g., a small dose of an antibiotic each day during the winter to prevent infection) hoping to bide time until the child is older. However, hearing and speech are definitely linked and should be monitored very closely. If medical management fails, the surgical option of having tympanostomy tubes placed to permit better drainage should be explored to improve hearing.
You should be involved in the decision-making, but need to be fully informed. It is important that your child's doctors, who follow him over time and know him best, put all the pieces together and discuss all the options with you.