Ear Infections


Dr. Patel
There are two types of ear infections that commonly affect children: otitis media, which is an infection of the middle ear, and otitis externa, which is an infection of the outer ear. Dr. Alvarado, can you tell us more about these two types of ear infection?

Dr. Alvarado
Of course, Dr. Patel. Middle ear infections are more common during early childhood than older ages. These infections typically begin with either a viral respiratory infection, such as the common cold, or an unhealthy bacterial growth. Sometimes the middle ear becomes inflamed and causes fluid buildup behind the eardrum. In other cases, fluid buildup results from the eustachian tubes being swollen.

Younger children are more prone to these problems because it's easier for germs to reach the middle ear and for fluid to get trapped there. Young children have eustachian tubes that are narrower, shorter, and more horizontal than they are in older children and adults, making them more vulnerable to inflammation and fluid buildup.

Otitis externa, an infection of the outer ear and ear canal, is often called swimmer's ear. Swimmer's ear may be acute, or short-term, or it may be chronic, or long-lasting. Unlike middle ear infections, swimmer's ear is more common in older children.