Ear infections are usually caused by bacteria that grows when there is a buildup of fluid behind the eardrum. While anyone of any age can get an ear infection, they are most common in children. In fact, five out of six children will have at least one ear infection by their third birthday. Ear infections are the most common reason for pediatric doctor’s visits.
Why Do Children Get More Ear Infections that Adults?
The Eustachian tubes of children are smaller and more horizontal than those in adults, making it difficult for fluid to drain out of the ear. If Eustachian tubes become swollen or blocked due to a cold or other condition, fluid is unable to drain and infection is the result.
In addition, children’s immune systems are still developing and aren’t as effective as adults’, making ear infections more difficult to fight.
What Are the Symptoms of Ear Infections?
There are three major types of ear infections; each has a different set of associated symptoms.
Acute Otitis Media (AOM)
AOM is the most common type of ear infection. It occurs when parts of the middle ear become infected and swollen, and fluid becomes trapped behind the eardrum. The result is pain in the ear (earache) and sometimes a fever.
Otitis Media with Effusion (OME)
OME occurs when an ear infection has passed but fluid remains trapped behind the eardrum. OME may cause no symptoms, but a doctor can identify whether there is fluid present with a special instrument.
Chronic Otitis Media with Effusion (COME)
COME is classified as fluid remaining in the middle ear for long periods of time or returning over and over again. COME does not necessarily indicate infection, but can make children more susceptible to infection and can also affect hearing.
How Can I Tell if My Child Has an Ear Infection?
It can be difficult to tell if you child has an ear infection if they’re too young to communicate their discomfort. Some signs to look for include:
- Pulling on ears
- Difficulty sleeping
- Fluid draining from ears
- Balance problems
- Hearing difficulty
For more information or to schedule an appointment with a pediatric ENT physician, call ENT of Georgia today!