Did you know that we here at Plymouth Ear, Nose and Throat have over thirty years of experience dealing with pediatric otolaryngology problems? Ear infections that have become recurrent, or even chronic, is one of those pediatric issues that we tackle on a regular basis. Although some may be more prone to ear infections than others, it is important to be educated about the facts of ear infections, what causes them, and what can be done to help ease and avoid them.
An ear infection occurs when the lining of the Eustachian tube, the tube that connects the middle ear to the nose and the back of the throat, swells and gets blocked up. When this happens, fluid may build up behind the eardrum and germs become trapped. Your child will experience pain from the pressure on the eardrum and might develop a fever from the infection in the middle ear. Ear infections are extremely common among children because the tubes in a children’s ear are shorter and smaller than in adults making it easier for fluid to accumulate. Ear infections are considered a chronic problem if your child is experiencing more than one or two per year.
There are certain factors that may put a child more at risk for developing ear infections:
- Family History: your child may be more at risk if you or their sibling had chronic ear infections
- Allergies: allergies often cause runny, stuffy noses and can block the Eustachian tube
- Secondhand Smoke: children being exposed to secondhand smoke are more susceptible and ear infections will often last longer than in those that are not
- Day Care/School: children in daycare or school are exposed to more germs and may pick up viruses that can lead to ear infections
- Winter: if you live in an area where the winters are long and cold then your child may be more apt to get an upper-respiratory infection that can lead to an ear infection
- Age: children under 18 months are more prone because their tubes are smaller and their immune system is still developing
- Gender: although the reason is unknown, boys tend to get ear infections more than girls
There are several things that you can do to help prevent future ear infections in your child. We recommend limiting exposure to cigarette smoke, keeping hands clean to kill germs and avoid the spreading of them, and talking with your doctor about staying up to date on immunizations as well as allergy relief.
If your child has been experiencing chronic ear infections, we are happy to help you set up an appointment and discuss further options with you. We can be reached at 508-746-8977.