If your child is laid low by an ear infection — again — it’s not an unusual situation. Over 80% of children experience at least one ear infection before their third birthday. Multiple infections are common. In fact, ear infections are the primary reason parents seek medical care for their kids.
Though ear infections are common, it doesn’t mean they’re harmless. In many cases, the infection will burn itself out, but there are times when medication may be necessary. Failure to seek treatment in these cases can lead to permanent hearing damage.
Arrange a visit to Katy Pediatric Associates if your child demonstrates any of the signs and symptoms of an ear infection. The doctors and staff can quickly assess and treat your child’s ear pain. Because it’s so common, every pediatrician is an ear infection specialist.
Your child’s developing body
Children suffer far more from ear infections that do adults. It comes down to two main reasons, both of which are associated with children’s young bodies.
Developing immune systems need time to build strength and acquire the biological programming that keeps them safe against pathogens. As your child’s system learns to recognize and defeat bacteria and other infecting agents, their ears may react to exposure levels that they’ll handle easily in just a few years’ time.
However, it’s the size and shape of their young bodies that tend to aggravate conditions that support ear infections.
The middle ear is an air-filled area containing the tiny bones that vibrate and conduct sound waves. This space, behind the eardrum, maintains equal air pressure with the outside world via eustachian tubes that run between your ears and the back of your nose. When your ears “pop” due to sudden altitude changes, it’s a function of equalizing pressure through these tubes.
In children, eustachian tubes are much closer to horizontal. One of their secondary functions is as a drainage route for fluid that sometimes accumulates in the ears. Adults have the advantage of a gravity assist, encouraging middle ear drainage.
Your children, on the other hand, don’t receive the same gravity benefits. Combine that with the smaller diameter of their growing tubes, and you can see that drainage is much more difficult, particularly if their heads are congested with mucus, such as during a cold.
Located next to the eustachian tube openings behind the nose, the adenoids play a role in immune system activity, and they frequently become swollen. The challenges faced by the near-level eustachian tubes can be complicated when swollen adenoids block regular drainage.
When the tubes are blocked, the middle ear becomes a haven for bacterial development. Though in many cases the infection will clear up naturally, in some cases pain and fever may be such that your doctor chooses to use antibiotics to help your child’s body clear out the infection.
Contact Katy Pediatric Associates whenever your child displays signs or symptoms of ear irritation or pain. Though ear infections are part of growing up, they may sometimes have serious consequences if not treated. Be safe, and book your appointment as soon as possible.