The winter season means the onset of the cold and flu season. Which can bring congestion for many. Many children, usually those under 2 years of age, experience increased issues with ear infections.

“An ear infection is a viral or bacterial infection that occurs in the middle part of the ear. This causes increased pressure in the space around the eardrum and the throat and is often painful,” says Michael Disher, MD, who specializes in ear issues.

The fluid build up then has difficulty draining out of the ear because the Eustachian tubes are small in size and are still growing with the child. This fluid block is what causes mucus build up and creates the pressure on the eardrum. While older children and adults can get ear infections it is less common because the Eustachian tubes are more developed and larger.

There are some signs that your little one may be suffering from an ear infection. Young children usually are irritable and cry more than usual, have difficulty sleeping, tug or pull on their ears, have a fever, and difficulty hearing or do not respond to softer noises.

There are simple ways to help prevent ear infections. Eliminating children’s exposure to smoking environments, and eliminating breast or bottle feeding in the supine position may help. While ear infections can be easily treated with antibiotics, the reoccurrence of ear infections (six or more within a 12-month span) may mean another solution is necessary.

James Williams, MD, PhD ProMedica Defiance Regional Hospital (PDRH) Otolaryngologist, sees patients from infant to older ages for ear, nose and throat specialties.

“Some pediatric patients who have reoccurring issues with their ears may benefit from having ear tubes (myringotomy or tympanostomy). The procedure is very simple, and is surgically placed in the child’s eardrum helping to ease pressure and allowing fluid to drain properly.” Dr. Williams said regarding the procedure. “Many patients have success with this and have very little to no issues after the procedure.”

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