Middle ear infection, or otitis media, is the most common reason children are seen by doctors. Antibiotics are usually the first line of treatment recommended. Antibiotics, however, often lead to recurrent infections and do not address the root cause. Consequently, more parents are seeking alternative natural treatments.
Causes of ear infections in children
Eustachian tube structure
Structurally, children are more susceptible to mucus and fluid buildup in the ears because their Eustachian tube—a canal between the middle ear and the back of the throat—is shorter and more horizontal than in adults.
This may prevent proper drainage of fluid, especially if there is any mucus present in the tube. Mucus provides a good environment for bacterial or viral growth, which leads to inflammation of the middle ear and canal, causing pain.
Chronic ear infections can also be due to food or airborne allergies. Allergy creates inflammation and pressure changes in the ear, which can then lead to mucus buildup and infection.
Suppressed immune system
If immune function is lowered for any reason, bacteria or viruses from the nose or throat can find their way into the middle ear and contribute to an ear infection.
Signs and symptoms of an ear infection
Young children with an ear infection may show the following signs:
- problems feeding or sleeping
- pulling on the ear
- complaints of ear pain
These symptoms are also often associated with signs of upper respiratory tract infection such as runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, cough, and fever. It’s always a good idea to consult a health care practitioner to get symptoms checked and to determine the best course of treatment.