Have you ever noticed how common it seems that children get ear infections? And have you ever wondered WHY children get ear infections? When children are… children… their Eustachian tubes—tubes that link the nasopharynx to the middle ear—are still developing. Their Eustachian tubes are horizontal, soft, and short; these three conditions make it easier for bacteria and mucus (from the back of a child’s nose) to travel up the Eustachian tubes and into the (generally dry) middle-ear area. As children age, their Eustachian tubes get more vertical, stiff, and longer, making it less possible for germs to travel up the Eustachian tubes and into the middle-ear area.
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), three out of four children will have at least one ear infection by their third birthday, and in fact, ear infections are the most common reason parents bring their child to a doctor.
If your child is too young to tell you his or her ear hurts, here are some signs that your child may have an ear infection…
- Balance problems
- Crankiness and crying
- Fluid draining from his or her ear
- Pulling at ear
Take your child to the doctor so he or she can determine which type of ear infection your child has: acute otitis media (AOM), otitis media with effusion (OME), or chronic otitis media with effucion (COME). Once the doctor has determined which type of ear infection your child has, he or she will prescribe a treatment, such as amoxicillin.