Ear Infections in Kids

Posted On Dec 27, 2019

Department of Ear Nose Throat

Manipal Hospitals

An ear infection is an inflammation of the middle ear that occurs when fluid builds up behind the eardrum due to bacteria. Ear infections can develop in anyone, but kids get them more often than adults. The scientific name for ear infections is OTITIS MEDIA (OM).

What are the different types of ear infections?

There are three major types of ear infections.


Acute otitis media develops when parts of the middle ear are infected and fluid is trapped behind the eardrum. The symptoms associated with acute otitis media are pain in the ear and fever.


Otitis media with effusion occurs when your ear infection progresses and fluid stays trapped behind the eardrum. General, it shows no symptoms. It can only be diagnosed with special instruments.


Chronic otitis with effusion occurs due to recurrence of fluid behind the eardrum even though there is no infection. It can cause hearing loss.

How can I tell if a kid has an ear infection?

If a child is not old enough to say that his/her ear hurts, here are a few things that can help you recognize an ear infection:

  • Fever

  • Fluid draining from the ear

  • Clumsiness or problems with balance

  • Trouble hearing or responding to quiet sounds

  • Fussiness and crying

  • Trouble sleeping

What are the causes of ear infections?

When a child suffers from a bacterial respiratory infection, the same bacteria may spread to the middle ear and cause an ear infection by building up fluid behind the eardrum. They can also occur due to viral respiratory infections.

Who is at higher risk of developing ear infections?

Ear infections can develop in:

  • Children with allergies.

  • Children who were not breastfed, as breast milk has antibodies that help fight ear infections.

  • Children with cleft palates

  • Children less than the age of 5 years, because they have shorter Eustachian tubes. These are tubes that help prevent ear infections.

  • Children who are exposed to cigarette smoke, as smoke causes inflammation of the Eustachian tube making ears vulnerable to infections.

How to prevent children from an ear infection?

Few things that you can do to prevent your kids from ear infections are:

  • Breastfeed your baby

  • Wash your child’s hands and your own frequently. It can help prevent the spread of germs.

  • Do not smoke and keep your child away from any kind of smoke.

  • Vaccinate your child against the flu.

  • Do not allow sick children to spend time together.

  • Vaccinate your child with the pneumococcal vaccine.

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