Skip to main content

You’ve heard the stats. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), 5 out of 6 children will have an ear infection by their third birthday. You know the signs—a cold, the flu, fever, tugging at the ear, fussiness and crying. You know ear infections are common in children. But do you know why they’re so common and what causes them?

There are two main reasons ear infections are more common in children than they are in adults, according to the NIDCD. First, children’s ears are simply smaller in size. The smaller the ear, the more likely an ear infection due to drainage not draining properly. The eustachian tube in the ear is what helps fluid drain and keep equalized pressure in the middle ear. In turn, a younger, smaller ear and eustachian tube tends to be more easily backed up by fluids in the ear from sickness or bacteria.    

Secondly, children’s immune systems are not as fully developed as adults. Therefore, children catch more colds and flus than adults. These flus and colds can easily lead to ear infections, especially if reason number one is in play and the eustachian tube is clogged with mucus or fluid.

There are three types of ear infections: outer, middle, and inner. They correlate to different parts of the ear where the infection occurs. The most common type of ear infection for kids is a middle ear infection (acute otitis media). A middle ear infection is where fluid gets trapped behind the tympanic membrane or eardrum and causes pain and swelling in your child’s ear. Another common ear infection is an outer ear infection (otitis externa) or swimmer’s ear. An outer ear infection is when bacteria infects the external ear canal accompanied often by pain, swelling, and possible discharge from the ear.

The cause of middle and outer ear infections can vary, (inner ear infections are less common) but there’s one main reason why your child’s ear becomes sore and infected: bacteria.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

The Best Japanese Beauty Products

The Best Japanese Beauty Products

I am sure most of you have heard about K-Beauty at this point. A K-Beauty skincare regimen involves numerous steps from cleansing, to toning and various levels of moisturizing. It is involved but yields serious results. With that being said, maybe you can’t commit to a routine more

Image placeholder title

Stylish Beach Accessories for a Day in the Sun, Sand, and Surf

I've been coveting this Eugenia Kim sun hat that's been all over Instagram for the past two months. With a wide-brim and the words "Do Not Disturb" embroidered on the front, it's the ideal accessory for a quiet day of reading on the beach. Built-in shade, some peaceful privacy, more

How to Get Your Child Involved in Ski Racing

How to Get Your Child Involved in Ski Racing

Do you ever watch the Winter Olympics with your family? We sure do at this house. Seeing the ski racers fly down the mountains was a big part of what attracted our girls to ski racing, but the biggest draw was friendship and time spent in the snow. If you are wondering how to get more

Bacteria is not a dirty word. It’s all around us all the time and can actually be helpful to build immune systems and regulate gut health. But the wrong kind of bacteria in the wrong place can result in sickness and sore ears.

Preventing ear infections can be tricky, but avoiding other sick children is a start. Frequently washing your hands can also help keep that nasty bacteria away from your ear. Additionally, children exposed to second-hand smoke are more likely to acquire ear infections.

Seeing a child miserable and in pain can be devastating. Hopefully, this information and these tips will come in handy the next time you think an ear infection is creeping up on your tot. 

Want more from Momtrends?

1. Hydration 101: 5 Facts to Know When Your Kids Are Sick

2. Medicine Cabinet Clean-Out

This is not a sponsored post. Article by Katie Marler, communications associate at Eosera®, Inc., a biotech company committed to providing innovative ear care products for adults, kids, and pets. 

Related Articles