Ear Infection News

Ear infections, typically caused by bacteria or a virus, almost always develop in the middle portion of the ear. The bacteria grow in fluid that builds up behind the ear drum. An ear infection can happen to just about anyone, but children are the most susceptible. About 75 percent of all children will have at least one by the age of 3, and many get them much more frequently.


Children get more ear infections than adults for several reasons. Their ears are still growing and developing, so the passageways are shorter, more horizontal and narrow than in an adult. This makes fluid buildup and infection more likely. Children also have a developing immune system, so they can’t fight off infection as easily as an adult can.

Symptoms of Ear Infections

Because ear infections frequently occur in very young children, it can be difficult to tell when one is present. Tugging or pulling at the ears might be a symptom, but this could also have nothing to do with an ear infection. However, fluid coming from the ears is an obvious warning sign, and pain and crying, especially when lying down, as well as fever, headache or increased difficulty sleeping are likely to indicate an ear infection, too.


Sometimes an ear infection resolves on its own without the need for any medication. Still, it’s best to speak with a doctor about an ear infection to determine the person's specific needs. Often, in a young child or when multiple ear infections occur, a prescription of antibiotics is warranted. If repeated ear infections and fluid buildup are affecting the ability to hear, a doctor may recommend the insertion of ear tubes. These are small devices that help open up the ear and ease the passage of fluid from the ears. The procedure is generally low-risk, and the tubes often fall out on their own in about six to nine months. Flu vaccines, frequent hand washings and not smoking around a child are steps can all help prevent the spread of ear infections.

SOURCES: U.S. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communications Disorders; American Academy of Pediatrics

Date Posted
Article Title
'Microbiomes' May Hold Key to Kids' Ear Infections

Germ communities in the middle ear differ greatly between affected and unaffected people, study shows

Decline in Kids' Ear Infections Linked to Pneumococcal Vaccine

The shots are effective in killing the main bacterial cause, but other germs are growing, researchers find

Ear Infections and PCV Vaccines

The rate of ear infections in young children is declining, new study finds

Hearing Loss Rates Holding Steady for U.S. Teens: Study

Vaccine that prevents ear infections may have counterbalanced surge in headphone use, expert says

Shield Yourself From 'Swimmer's Ear'

Water left behind after a swim can give you a serious earache -- but not if you know what to do

Hear This! Keep Cotton Swabs Out of Kids' Ears

An estimated 12,500 U.S. children are injured every year after cleaning mishaps, researchers say

Ick! Synthetic Mucus Could Battle Dangerous Bugs

Researchers are working on lab-grown versions to control disease-causing bacteria

Common Post-Op Ear Drops Tied to Eardrum Perforations in Kids

Rate of the injury rises with quinolones, but researchers say alternatives have their own hazards

Earwax There to Protect Your Hearing, Doctors Say

If it builds up, seek medical attention, otherwise leave it alone, guidelines advise

Short Course of Antibiotics Not Best for Kids' Ear Infections

10 days of the medication was twice as effective, study finds

Study Suggests Genetic Link to Middle Ear Infections

They're the No. 1 reason kids get antibiotics, and finding could point to better treatments, researchers say

Gel Antibiotic: An Easier Ear Infection Treatment Someday?

One-time application was highly effective in animal trials, but more study needed, researchers say

How to Prevent Painful Swimmer's Ear

Simple steps after a day in the water help prevent infection, expert says

Breast Milk Best From the Breast?

Babies were more likely to get ear infections if they were fed pumped milk, study found

Preventing Ear Infections

Middle ear infections on the decline among infants, new study finds.

Infant Ear Infections Becoming Less Common

Just under half of U.S. babies have them in first year now, compared to 60 percent in '80s and '90s

Unapproved Ear Drops Targeted by FDA

These prescription meds have been available for years, but safety, quality are concerns

Ear Infections Common, But Often Missed, in Infants

Doctor says irritability, fever and pulling at ears are possible signs

Prescription Eardrops Seem Best for Kids With Recurrent Ear Infection: Study

Finds drops may be preferred remedy when special 'ear tubes' are needed

Decline of Antibiotic Use Among Kids Seems To Be Leveling Off: Study

Ear infections most common reason for prescriptions in children under 6; trends vary by region

Health Tip: Reducing Your Child's Risk of Ear Infections

Don't let child lie flat while eating or drinking

Kids' Ear Infections Cost U.S. Health System Nearly $3B Annually: Report

In 2009, the condition added $314 per child for outpatient visits, $17 for meds

New Push by Doctors to Limit Antibiotic Use in Kids

Many upper respiratory infections, such as mild strep throat, don't require the drugs, report says

Pediatrics Group Issues New Ear Infection Guidelines

Less antibiotic use, added focus on pain control among key points

Many Smokers Light Up With Kids in Car: Study

Smoke-free campaigns should target parent drivers, researchers say

Health Tip: Possible Signs of an Ear Infection

They include pulling at the ear

Babies With Pets Not Dogged by Colds: Study

Early exposure, especially to dogs, reduced respiratory infections in infants

Health Tip: Help Prevent Chronic Ear Infections

Children should avoid secondhand smoke

Infections Might Raise Stroke Risk in Children: Study

However, parents should note that incidence is rare, researchers say

Hearing Devices More Apt to Fail in Children Who Had Meningitis

Once cochlear implants were replaced, hearing improvement returned, study finds

Health Tip: Treating an Earache

Suggestions to soothe your child's pain

Swimmer's Ear Costs Up to $500 Million a Year in U.S.

Take steps to prevent this common water-related infection, CDC advises

Could a Type of Ear Infection Help Make Kids Obese?

Chronic infection with fluid might alter taste, causing children to eat more, study suggests

1 in 5 Kids With Cold Develops Middle Ear Infection: Study

But most mild cases can be treated without antibiotics, researchers say

Antibiotics Can Ease Kids' Ear Infections, Studies Show

Symptoms clear up sooner, more often with treatment, researchers find

Teens in Smoking Homes May Get More Ear Infections

Doctors should educate parents on the dangers of secondhand smoke, researchers say

Littlest Kids in Big Day-Care Centers May Have Better Health Later On

Once in elementary school, ear and respiratory infections are fewer, study finds

Health Tip: Does Your Child Have Mastoiditis?

Common signs of the infection

Health Tip: Treating an Ear Infection

Suggestions for what to do

Antibiotics a Mixed Bag for Kids' Ear Infections: Analysis

The number of kids who benefit is similar to the number experiencing side effects, researchers find

Race, Income Affect Care for Ear Infections: Study

White kids more likely to get medicine, see specialist, researchers find