Causes of Ear Infections in Children

Causes of Ear Infections in Children Questions and Answers

If you want to know about causes and treatment of ear infections in your child then visit Olivero Pediatrics in Frisco, TX. For more information, please call us or request an appointment online.

Causes of Ear Infections in Children Near Me in Port Matilda, PA
Causes of Ear Infections in Children Near Me in Port Matilda, PA

Why do children commonly get ear infections?

Middle ear infections (known as otitis media) are the most common childhood ailment (other than colds) and, according to the National Institutes of Health, five out of six children will have an ear infection before their third birthday.  Although most common in children between 3 months and 3 years of age, ear infections are still common in children up to the age of 8.

Children are more likely to suffer from ear infections than adults due to the fact that:

  • Their immune systems are still developing and less equipped to fight off infections.
  • Their eustachian tubes (two narrow tubes that run from the middle ear to high up in the back of the throat that are responsible for draining normal fluid from the middle ear) are narrower, shorter and more horizontal, which makes it easier for germs to reach the middle ear and for fluid to become trapped there.
  • Adenoids in children are larger than in adults. Adenoids are composed largely of cells that help fight infections, but when enlarged can, because of their size, restrict the opening of the eustachian tube. Any infection in the adenoids can also spread to the eustachian tubes.

How do I know if my toddler has an ear infection?

Ear infections are very common in babies and toddlers under three years of age – the age group that is least able to communicate how, or what, they are feeling.  If your child isn’t old enough to say “my ear hurts” there are some signs to look for that could help:

  • Pulling or tugging at their ear(s)
  • Difficulty sleeping or lying down
  • Raised temperature (particularly in younger children and infants)
  • Fluid draining from the ear
  • Balance issues or clumsiness
  • Difficulty hearing or reacting to quiet sounds

What is the most common cause of ear infections in children?

An ear infection often begins when a child has a sore throat, cold or other upper respiratory infection that spreads to the middle ear, which is where ear infections occur.  Infections can be viral or bacterial; if viral, bacteria can be drawn to the middle ear to cause a secondary infection, such as sinusitis or pneumonia.

How do I know if my child’s ear infection is bacterial or viral?

A bacterial ear infection can sometimes be the result of a secondary infection, meaning that it began with a virus and bacteria were subsequently introduced; some indications that this could be the case are:

  • When symptoms continue for longer than the normal 10-14 days of a virus
  • When there is a fever higher than one might typically expect from a virus
  • The fever gets worse after a few days rather than getting better

As we all know, antibiotics can be used to treat bacterial infections but not those caused by a virus; however, if the virus produces a secondary (bacterial) infection, it may then be treated with an antibiotic.  For instance, a runny nose caused by a cold or flu virus would normally last only a few days. If it persists beyond 10-14 days, however, it may be an indication of a sinus infection, which could then be treated with antibiotics.  In most cases doctors adopt a “wait and see” approach with ear infections as in many cases the body is able to fight them off in a few days, thereby helping to strengthen the child’s immune system.  Over the counter medication can help to relieve the pain and make the child feel more comfortable. So, depending on your child’s age, these secondary infections may or may not need antibiotics.

If you would like to know more about ear infections in children, their causes and treatment, contact Olivero Pediatrics today!  Dr. Daniel Olivero, M.D. and his team serve newborns to children up to 21 years and we are here to help you and your child in every kind of situation. We are conveniently located at 1243 Skytop Mountain Rd. Suite 4, Port Matilda, PA 16870. For more information, please call us or request an appointment online. We serve patients from Port Matilda PA, Waddle, PA, Julian PA, State College PA, Bellefonte PA, Pennsylvania Furnace PA, and Pine Grove Mills PA.