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What’s Causing My Child to Get Recurrent Ear Infections?

Over 80% of children have an ear infection by age three. Middle ear infections (otitis media) are common, but they also carry the risk of long-term issues. Many ear infections resolve independently but can spread and cause serious problems, including hearing loss. 

Dr. John Monroe and our team here at Healthy Life Family Medicine in Goodyear, Arizona, are acute care specialists who can quickly diagnose and treat ear infections to prevent severe damage. If your child seems to contract ear infections frequently, we can help discover the cause and recommend strategies to prevent chronic problems

Detecting ear infections in your child 

It's important to note that ear infections can develop in young children who can’t communicate their discomfort. Watching how they act can help identify a potential problem. When a child expresses ear pain, it's natural to consider the possibility of an infection. You may also notice some nonverbal clues, such as: 

Causes of recurring ear infections

When a child has an ear infection, fluid can build up behind their eardrum. This fluid typically drains through their eustachian tubes, which are tiny passageways that connect the ear to the throat. These tubes help maintain normal air pressure in the ear and allow for drainage.

Blocked eustachian tubes prevent equalized pressure between the middle ear and the outside air, leading to pain and discomfort.

Since children's eustachian tubes are smaller and more level than those of adults, they’re more prone to issues with fluid drainage. However, as children grow, these problems typically resolve themselves. Genetic factors can also play a role in the size and shape of a child's eustachian tubes.

Bacteria growth

Slowed ear drainage provides a perfect environment for bacteria to multiply. A child's weaker immune system may struggle to control this bacterial growth, especially when they’re young. Even a common cold can lead to mucus buildup, creating a favorable environment for bacteria to thrive.

When to see the doctor 

Middle ear infections may heal without intervention, but parents need to know when they warrant medical treatment. Schedule a visit to Healthy Life Family Medicine if your child encounters symptoms like: 

Avoid serious complications from ear infections by getting your child fast and effective treatment. Contact our office to schedule an exam and consultation today.

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