Why Do Kids Get Ear Infections More Often Than Adults?

Why Do Kids Get Ear Infections More Often Than Adults?

Ear infections are one of the hardest things to see your kid go through. Somehow, they always seem to hit hardest after office hours or on the weekend, when your doctor’s office is closed. Why do kids get ear infections so much more frequently than adults, and how can you prevent them?

At SLENT, with locations in Mandeville, Slidell, and Hammond, Louisiana, our otolaryngology specialists can help you understand why kids are so prone to ear infections and what steps you can take to help prevent your child from undergoing all that suffering.

Common causes of ear infections

Most ear infections occur in the middle ear and are caused by bacteria or viruses, including the virus that causes the common cold. The two main culprits responsible for pain and pressure during ear infections are the eustachian tubes and the adenoids.

Eustachian tubes

Eustachian tubes run from the middle ear to the back of the nose and throat. They help regulate pressure and allow drainage.  When these tubes get blocked or inflamed, fluid can back up and cause pressure. 

Adenoids 

Adenoids are small glands located at the back of your sinuses. When the immune system flares up, adenoids can become inflamed and swollen, causing pain radiating into the ears. However, in adults, the adenoids are only vestigial organs that serve no purpose.

Why kids are more prone to ear infections than adults

There are two main reasons that children get ear infections more frequently than adults do. 

The first is that in children, the eustachian tubes are shorter and more horizontal. This means that fluid is often more stagnant, making a perfect breeding ground for bacteria and a great hiding place for a viral infection. 

A child who gets a lot of ear infections may be a candidate for placement of small cylinders or tubes in their ears, known as a tympanostomy. These can reduce pressure build-up and promote better drainage. They typically fall out on their own after six months to a year.

The second is that adenoids are active in children up to the age of seven. They’re an important part of a child’s immune system and can react strongly to inflammation or infection. If your child has chronic ear infections and their adenoids are inflamed, your doctor may advise adenoid removal.

How to prevent ear infections

If your child is prone to ear infections, you can take these steps to help prevent future incidents:

To learn more about ear infections and your treatment options, schedule a consultation at SLENT by calling 985-327-5905, or visit the contact page for more options. 

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