Ear infections are shockingly common in children. In fact, according to a study by the National Institute of Health, five out of six children experience at least one case of ear infection before they are three years old. While these conditions are generally not serious, some children may encounter severe and recurrent ear infections.

Depending on the affected area, the child may experience ear pain, itching, difficulty hearing, a blocked ear, fever, headache, nausea, or vomiting. There may also be ear discharge. Therefore, as a parent and caretaker, you must remain vigilant in treating and monitoring an ear infection. The first step in doing so is to understand what causes ear infections in children and how to minimise your child’s risk of developing one.

Why Ear Infections Are Common In Children

A Child Having Ear Infection

So, why are children more susceptible to ear infections than adults? That is because your child’s eustachian tubes are still developing. As a result, the tubes are usually small and horizontal, making it challenging for fluid to drain out of their ears.

To make matters worse, most children are terrible at blowing their noses, so the fluid is more likely to remain trapped behind the eardrum. If it does not drain adequately, it will continue to build up in the ear and cause bacteria to develop, resulting in a middle ear infection.

Other bacterial infections, similar to what causes sinus infections, strep throat, and pneumonia, can travel to your child’s ears and get trapped in this infection-thriving environment. Ear infection cases caused by bacteria are often accompanied by high fever and a significant recovery period.

However, bacteria are not the only cause of paediatric ear infections. Other factors, including exposure to cigarette smoke, a weak immune system, and viral infections, can increase your child’s risk of developing these conditions.

In particular, viral infections, such as the cold, flu, and other upper respiratory infections, can also travel to your child’s ears, similar to bacteria, resulting in fluid build-up. Since viral infections usually last longer in babies and children, they are at higher risk of developing an ear infection.

Learn More: Detecting an Ear Infection in Your Child

How Do I Know If My Child’s Ear Infection Is Bacterial Or Viral?

In the beginning, it can be challenging to know if your child’s ear infection is viral or bacterial. As a result, it can often feel like a waiting game. If the infection subsides after a few days, it is most likely a viral infection. However, if the condition worsens over time or is accompanied by a high fever, it could be a bacterial infection. The best way of knowing is to consult a paediatric ENT specialist.

In fact, we recommend scheduling an ENT consultation with our clinic immediately if you suspect the infection is caused by bacteria. Our ENT doctor can work with you to identify the root cause of the problem and take the appropriate course of action for treatment. Generally, treatments come in the form of antibiotic prescriptions and over-the-counter medications to fight bacterial infection and manage pain, respectively.

How To Prevent Paediatric Ear Infections?

How To Prevent Paediatric Ear Infections

Preventing ear infections in children can seem like a near-impossible task since their immune systems are still developing. As a result, they are more vulnerable to catching germs of all types. Moreover, your child is more likely to contract bacteria or a virus from others, as they are constantly surrounded by other children during play and school, possibly leading to an ear infection.

Nevertheless, you can still take several preventative measures to combat bacteria and viruses. Here are several helpful tips to keep in mind courtesy of our paediatric ENT specialist:

While these conditions may be prevalent in children, we still recommend consulting our paediatric ENT specialist if your child is experiencing an ear infection. Our board-certified doctor, Dr Jenica Yong, can examine your child and discuss the appropriate treatment options to alleviate their discomfort. Contact our ENT specialist clinic in Singapore to schedule an appointment with us today!

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