Almost half of all children will suffer from at least one middle ear infection (otitis media) before they’re a year old, and two-thirds of them will have had at least one episode by age three. The symptoms of otits media include ear pain, fever, and irritability. If you look into the ear of a child who has otitis media, you will be able to see a buildup of fluid behind the ear drum, and the inside of the ear will appear inflamed. Otitis media is caused by either a bacterial or viral infection and frequently results from another illness such as a cold. For many children, it can become a chronic problem, requiring treatment year after year, and putting the child at risk of permanent hearing damage and associated speech and developmental problems.
Otitis media commonly emerges when there is improper drainage of the lymph system in the neck, or when the muscle that is supposed to keep bacteria or viruses from entering the eustacean tubes (the tubes in the back of the throat that lead to the inner ear) doesn’t work correctly. While both of these things can happen in adults, it usually does not result in an ear infection for two reasons: First, the shape and the length of the eustacean tubes are different in adults, allowing easier drainage and making it more difficult for a bacteria to invade. Second, adults tend to spend more time upright than young children do, which also encourages better drainage and decreases risk of infection.