What Makes Children More Susceptible to Ear Infections?

It’s that time of year again. Winter is coming, you and your children are feeling the cold weather, and you begin to notice the symptoms of an ear infection. Your child has a fever; has trouble sleeping, eating, and drinking; and complains of ear pain or simply pulls at their ear to indicate discomfort. If your child has had ear infections before, you definitely know the signs. But why are children so susceptible to ear infections?

Dr. Melissa Somers and Dr. Marc Feeley, as well as the rest of our team at Petoskey Ear Nose and Throat Specialists, want to help you and your child prevent ear infections as much as possible. But doing so also requires an understanding of why they occur.

Why children get ear infections more than adults

Children, especially those between the ages of two and four, are more susceptible to ear infections than adults are for a number of reasons. First, they have shorter eustachian tubes that are also more horizontal in position. This means it’s easier for bacteria, viruses, and other things to get inside the ear, thus causing otitis media or middle ear infection.

In addition, the glands at the back of a young child’s throat are also large, which can cause problems with the opening and closing of the eustachian tubes, which are narrower than an adult’s, and more easily blocked. Finally, a child’s immune system simply hasn’t developed the sophistication of an adult’s immune system, making them more susceptible to infections in general.

Why some children get more ear infections than others

While we understand many children who get consistent ear infections will grow out of this phase, it can also be puzzling to see your child get multiple ear infections a year while someone else’s child doesn’t. Why does this happen? There are certain environmental factors that can make ear infections more likely to occur, such as

There has also been research that indicates there may be a possible genetic link between children who have a higher risk of ear infections, as evidenced by this 2016 study from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Protecting your child against ear infections

Now that you know why children get ear infections, it may be easier to protect your child from them, but it’s important to understand that babies and toddlers are still more likely to get these infections than older children and adults. However, if you are avoiding all the risk factors of ear infections and your child continually gets them, surgery involving the placement of a tube inside your child’s ears may be necessary.

Want to learn more about ear infections?

If you believe your child may be suffering from an ear infection and may need a doctor’s care, call 231-487-3277 to make an appointment at our Petoskey or Gaylord, Michigan offices. You may also request an appointment online

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