Madison (WKOW) -- Cold and flu season is here, and for many young kids that can mean trouble with their ears.
Ear infections lead to more than 5 million visits to the doctor each year in the U.S.
And chronic ear infections can lead to real problems for young kids.
Chronic ear infections are actually one of the most common causes of developmental issues in kids.
They can lead to hearing problems, speech development and balance problems.
But for a lot of parents, the idea having tubes surgically placed in their child's ears is kind of scary.
Luke longmore is a busy guy.
But in his first year, he faced a flurry of ear infections.
His mom Michelle Longmore says, "He had six in a six month time period. It wasn't that they weren't healing. They were healing after each time. The antibiotics were working for him, but he just continued to get them."
Luke was the perfect candidate for ear tubes, small, plastic tubes surgically inserted into the eardrum to keep air moving in the middle ear.
"We usually say if a child has three acute infections with pain on colds and fever in six months, after that you should start considering putting tubes in.", says Dr. Margaretha Casselbrant.
Dr. Casselbrant is the first researcher in the United States to find a potential link between clumsiness and fluid in the middle ear.
She says, "I think it's important to see how the child doing in school. Can they hear, or not? Do they seem to be extra clumsy? And I think they need to talk to their pediatrician."
Luke's motoring around with no problems, thanks to the ear tubes he got a few months ago.
"Within a week's time, he was crawling around the house, pulling himself up to stand, sleeping through the night.", says his mom.
And according to Dr. Casselbrant, "Usually the whole personality can be different and the parents come back and say, 'oh, my child is like a new kid.' and I think that's the fun things to hear."
And fun for this family to hear, too.
Dr. Casselbrandt is continuing her research, and is focusing on the search for the gene responsible for ear infections.