Hearing Screening Online Training Program

Question: Do you know why children are more susceptible to ear infections (also called otitis media) than adults?

Answer: A healthy Eustachian tube allows fluid to drain into the nose and throat, but when agents such as bacteria and germs spread up the tube from the mouth and nose into the middle ear, the Eustachian tube may swell and close off the drainage pathway. As a child’s Eustachian tubes are more horizontal than adult Eustachian tubes until approximately age 3, this fluid drainage does not occur as easily. A child’s Eustachian tubes are also much shorter than those of adults, which makes it easier for bacteria to move from deep inside a child’s nose to the middle ear, thereby causing an ear infection.

Many other factors seem to play a role in determining which children will have a higher incidence of ear infections. Family history of otitis media, attendance in group childcare, frequency of upper respiratory infections, bottle feeding in a reclined position, and frequent exposure to secondhand smoke are all possible causes of ear infection in children.