Childhood Ear Infections

“Why does my kid have so many ear infections?”


The simple answer is anatomy. Ear infections are a common ailment in childhood, causing distress for both the child and their parents. A suspected ear infection is one of the most common reasons parents take their child to the doctor. The most prevalent type of ear infection affects the middle ear, which is located behind the eardrum.


Anatomy Lesson: The middle ear space is an air-filled cavity that functions optimally when the air pressure in that space is equal to the air pressure in your environment. This is why some people experience discomfort when traveling on an airplane. There is a tube that connects the middle ear space to the back of the throat called the Eustachian tube. The Eustachian tube is responsible for maintaining the air pressure in the middle ear space. The Eustachian tube is the only draining mechanism for the middle ear.


A child’s eustachian tubes are shorter and positioned more horizontally, limiting the ability to effectively drain fluids which makes children more susceptible to infection. As a child grows, the Eustachian tubes gradually lengthen and adopt a more vertical orientation, which allows for better function. This is why ear infections are far less common in adults. Middle ear infections can cause severe pain and temporary hearing loss. If you think your child has an ear infection, I encourage you to contact your pediatrician or an Ear Nose and Throat Physician. Your trusted audiologist is a great resource to measure the hearing loss your child is experiencing secondary to the infection. They will refer for medical treatment when necessary and provide advice to improve communication until the infection is resolved.


Thanks to modern medicine, your kid’s ear infections can be treated effectively until they outgrow this phase.


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