Ear infections, although especially common in children, can affect people of all ages. They can range from mildly irritating to excruciatingly painful. Mild ones will often clear up on their own, but more serious problems are best treated by a physician.
Viruses Versus Bacteria
Ear infections fall into one of two categories. They are either caused by viruses or bacteria. Many times, they will appear following another type of medical issue, such as a cold, flu or allergy attack.
How Infections Occur
The part of the ear called the Eustachian tube controls air pressure within the ear and also assists in drainage of fluids. When these tubes become swollen and inflamed, infections can occur. Pieces of tissue near these tubes, the adenoids, may also lead to infections when inflamed.
Why Children Suffer More Frequently
The Eustachian tubes in children’s ears are smaller, making it easier for them to become swollen to the point of infection occurring. If your child has a fever, is particularly irritable and is tugging on his or her ears, they may have an ear infection.