Ear infections in children are very common for two main reasons – their eustachian tubes (the tube connecting the throat and middle ear) are anatomically narrower and more horizontally positioned, which hinders fluid from draining out from their middle ear, and their immune system is also developing.

Otitis media, also known as middle ear infection, is the most common type of ear infection in children. It is usually preceded by an upper respiratory tract infection that causes swelling of the lining of the nose. When the nose is congested, it prevents the normally produced fluids in the middle ear to build up instead of being drained away. The trapped fluid then becomes infected with bacteria and results in ear infections in children.

People with Higher Risk of Ear Infections

Child Not feeling well

Although ear infections are common in children, some are more inclined to getting them due to various factors. Children who attend childcare facilities are more likely to be exposed to viruses and bacteria, making them more susceptible to colds that can lead to ear infections. Another instance where ear infections may occur in children lies in prolonged exposure to cigarette smoke as it causes inflammation of the eustachian tube. Children under the age of five are also more likely to develop ear infections due to their smaller eustachian tubes.

How to Detect Ear Infection in Children?

Some young children may get ear infections before they can even talk. It can be difficult for parents to detect ear infections in their children when this happens. Even if your children are old enough to communicate, they may not be well aware of any discomfort in their bodies to be able to alert you to any issues. However, observing them and identifying the following signs can assist you in determining whether your child is suffering from an ear infection.

How can I Prevent Ear Infections in Children?

  1. Do not smoke

    No smoking signage

    Secondhand smoke increases the risk of ear infections in children; therefore, avoid smoking in the presence of your children or allowing your child to get too close to smokers.

  2. Manage your child’s allergies

    Inflammation or mucus caused by allergic reactions can block your child’s eustachian tube, increasing the risk of ear infections. To keep ear infections at bay, help your child avoid allergic reactions by keeping your home clean.

  3. Prevent colds

    Children are more susceptible to colds, and catching one can result in ear infections. Avoid allowing your child to share toys, food, drinking cups, or utensils.

  4. Bottle feed baby in an upright position

    Bottle-fed babies should be held upright (head higher than stomach) to prevent ear infections. This is because lying too flat can cause the milk to enter the eustachian tube and cause inflammation.

  5. Keep an eye out for mouth breathing or snoring

    Uncomfortable child resting

    Constant snoring or breathing through the mouth may be caused by large adenoids, which may contribute to ear infections. Bring your child to a child ENT specialist to have the adenoids assessed.

Most ear infections in children are minor and can be treated within a few days. If you notice any of the symptoms listed above, bring your child to an ENT specialist immediately to get the problem resolved.

Visit our ear, nose, and throat clinic in Singapore, led by Dr. Jenica Yong and a team of healthcare professionals skilled in diagnosing and treating paediatric ENT issues. Make an appointment with us today.

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