Ear infections can be very distressing for children as they can cause earache, balance problems and hearing loss. In most cases, the symptoms will clear up quickly with no lasting damage, but sometimes they can last longer than expected or keep coming back.
Why Are Ear Infections in Children So Common?
One reason why ear infections can be persistent in children is that they are simply more likely to get ear infections than adults. Approximately 5 out of every 6 children will have at least one ear infection before the age of three and they are one of the most common reasons for children visiting the doctor.
Ear infections can be very unusual for many adults, so you might be surprised that your child complains of earache frequently. Even if your child is only getting ear infections a few times a year, this can seem like a lot when you never have the same symptoms yourself.
Ear infection in children can be more common because their immune systems aren’t fully developed yet, so they are more vulnerable to infections that wouldn’t affect an adult. The adenoid glands in the throat are often very active during infections, but they can sometimes trap bacteria that then passes through the eustachian tubes into the middle ear to cause an ear infection.
The effects of ear infection in children can also be stronger because their eustachian tubes are smaller and less slanted than an adults. It can be harder for fluid to drain out of the middle ear, especially when more is being produced because of an infection. The eustachian tubes are more likely to get blocked, meaning that ear infections can be more severe and persistent.
Chronic Ear Infection in Children
However, some children seem to get ear infections a lot more often than others. The infections might last for longer or reappear very quickly. Sometimes the same infection persists, without responding to the normal treatments.
The most likely cause of persistent ear infection in children is chronic otitis media. Persistent ear problems in children often happen because there is a build-up of fluid in the inner ear. The Eustachian tube isn’t draining this fluid properly. This often happens because there is an infection that isn’t responding to normal treatments. Fluid can also remain in the middle ear or keep coming back after the infection has gone, which means that the symptoms will persist.
How Can Chronic Ear Infection in Children Be Treated?
If your child suffers from persistent ear infections then you should see an ENT specialist to find out if there’s a reason why it keeps happening. The doctor can check for an infection or a blockage in the eustachian tubes that is causing chronic otitis media. Antibiotics can help if there is a persistent bacterial infections, but other treatments such as grommets might be needed if your child has a chronic problem. Grommets can be inserted into the ear drum to provide another drainage route for the middle ear if the eustachian tubes aren’t working properly. Freeing your child from persistent ear infections can have a huge impact on their health and wellbeing.