Otitis media in baby

Causes of Ear Infection in Children

Ear infections are quite common in young children. The infection may involve the outer ear (otitis externa) or middle ear (otitis media). If your child has outer ear infection, he or she may have symptoms of ear pain, itch and itch that may have ear discharge. Middle ear infection in children have symptoms of fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, drowsiness and loses the child’s appetite.
Middle ear infection, also known as acute otitis media, is a common childhood illness that occurs when the middle ear becomes inflamed and filled with fluid. There are several causes of middle ear infection in children, including:

  • Bacterial or viral infection: When a child develops a cold or flu, the Eustachian tube, which connects the middle ear to the back of the throat, can become blocked. This blockage can lead to the buildup of fluid in the middle ear, which can then become infected by bacteria or viruses.
  • Allergies: Allergic reactions can cause inflammation and swelling in the nasal passages and Eustachian tubes, which can increase the likelihood of fluid buildup and infection.
  • Exposure to Allergens: Exposure to allergens, such as smoke, can irritate the nasal passages and increase the risk of developing a middle ear infection.

Acute otitis media    Middle ear effusion

Symptoms of Middle Ear Infection in Children

  • Ear Pain: Pain in the ear is the most common symptom of middle ear infection in children. It may happen in one or both ears, and can range from mild to severe.
  • Fever: Middle ear infections in children can cause low-grade fever.
  • Difficulty hearing: Temporary hearing loss may be experienced due to the buildup of fluid.
  • Ear drainage: There may be pus-like or clear drainage from the ear.
  • Irritability: The discomfort caused by the infection may cause children to become irritable or fussy.
  • Headache: Children may also experience a headache or feel pressure in the affected ear.
  • Rubbing or tugging at the ear: The discomfort may cause your child to constantly rub or tug at their ear. 

Treatment for Middle Ear Infection

Most middle ear infections should clear up on their own within a few days to a week and don’t require any treatment. However, if your child experiences discomfort, treatment can be sought to relieve symptoms and speed up the recovery process. Antibiotics may be indicated in specific cases depending on the age of the child, if one or both sides are involved and the degree of symptoms. For example, children suffering from an ear infection caused by bacteria will be given antibiotics. Medications such as paracetamol or ibuprofen may also be prescribed to help reduce pain and get rid of their fever.

How to prevent a middle ear infection in children

There are several steps that parents can take to help prevent middle ear infections in children.

  • Encourage your child to practise good hygiene: Good personal hygiene prevents the spread of germs and infections.
  • Vaccinate your child against the flu: The pneumococcal vaccine helps to protect against a bacteria that causes middle ear infections.
  • Avoid exposing your child to cigarette smoke: Secondhand smoke can irritate the middle ear lining, increasing your child’s risk of developing infections.
  • Avoid allowing your child to drink from a bottle while lying down: Drinking from a bottle while lying down can cause milk or formula to pool in the back of the throat, which can lead to infections. Instead, keep your child’s upper body slightly elevated.

Frequently Asked Questions

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

Bacteria such as Streptococcus Pneumoniae and viruses such as colds are common causes of ear infections in children.

Will an ear infection in children go away on its own?

Most ear infections in children should go away on their own without treatment. But if your child is experiencing severe or persistent symptoms, do seek medical attention.

Will cleaning my child’s ears prevent ear infections?

Regularly cleaning your child’s ears is one step towards preventing ear infections.

How do I clean my child’s ears to prevent an ear infection?

Use a damp cloth to gently clean the outside of your child’s ears. You may use ear wax removal drops to clean the inside of your child’s ears. Do not insert any objects into your child’s ears.

When should I bring my child to the doctor for an ear infection?

You should bring your child to the doctor to get the ear infection checked out if your child’s symptoms persist for more than three days, worsens, or if your child is experiencing severe symptoms.