When it comes to age, nobody is immune to ear infections. You could get an ear infection at any age, especially during allergy season or cold and flu season. But while anyone can get an ear infection, children are far more likely to come down with this bacterial infection.
According to the federal Department of Health and Human Services, 5 of 6 children will have an ear infection by their third birthday. Additionally, ear infections are the most common reason for a parent to bring their child to the doctor.
Ear infections can be especially terrifying for parents, as their baby or toddler can be in clear distress but lack the ability to voice the source of their pain. Take a moment to check out this guide to ear infections in children: why children are more susceptible, the symptoms of an ear infection, and what causes ear infections.
Do you think your child may be suffering from an ear infection? If you’re in the northern Atlanta vicinity, come see us at Woodstock Family Practice & Urgent Care in Woodstock, Georgia. James Y. Lee, DO, and the rest of our team will make sure your child receives excellent care.
Dr. Lee is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine and uses a holistic, patient-focused approach to promote overall wellness and provide innovative, customized medical care.
What is an ear infection?
In its most basic form, an ear infection is an inflammation of the middle ear, typically caused by bacteria, that develops when fluid builds up behind the eardrum. There are three types of ear infection, but unless your child has chronic ear infections or complains of fluid in their ears, they probably have an acute otitis media infection.
The pain from this type of ear infection comes from the inflamed and swollen parts of the middle ear.
Symptoms to look for in your child
An older child or adult who gets an ear infection can tell you where it hurts. A baby or toddler doesn’t have the same ability. However, certain symptoms and behaviors can indicate when it’s time to visit the doctor, including:
- Unexplained fever
- Trouble sleeping
- Tugging and pulling on the ears
- Excessive crying
- Fluid draining from the ear
- Unusual balance issues
- Trouble hearing, especially quieter sounds
There is also a connection between upper respiratory infections and ear infections, especially if your child has recently been ill.
Why children are more prone
The eustachian tubes play a major part in why children are more susceptible to ear infections. These tubes connect the ears to the nasopharynx, which contains the upper throat and back of the nasal cavity. Any fluid that enters the ear drains through the eustachian tubes.
Children under 5 years old have tubes that are smaller, shorter, and more level than those in adults. Even when children are healthy, it’s harder for their ears to drain fluid, making ear infections more likely.
When your child has a cold or upper respiratory infection, the tubes fill with mucus. In an adult with fully-grown eustachian tubes, fluid may be able to find a way out. In a child, mucus could totally block off the tubes and keep fluid in the ear.
Children also have less developed immune systems than adults. While you may be able to fight off an ear infection, a child’s body is not as capable of fighting back. Children who go to daycare are at a higher risk of ear infections simply because they’re around more germs and other children with colds.
If your child is suffering from an ear infection or seems to constantly get them, come see the family medicine experts at Woodstock Family Practice & Urgent Care. We work with you to devise a plan that helps your child get relief.
Call our Woodstock, Georgia, office at 770-927-8273 to set up your appointment, or use our convenient online booking feature. You can also send Dr. Lee and the team a message here on our website.