What are the causes of Ear Infections in Babies?   

In this post, we will define the causes of Ear Infections in Babies are Ear infections are irritation of the middle ear typically caused by bacteria which occur when fluid accumulates in the area behind the eardrum.

 Anybody can develop an ear infection. However, children suffer more frequently than adults.

About five out of six children suffer from at least one hearing problem by age three.

Ear infections are the most frequent reason parents send their children to a doctor. The scientific term used to describe an ear problem is otitis media (OM).

   What is an ear infection?    

If your child is irritable and crying more often than normal and tugs on their ears, they could suffer from an ear infection.

 5 out of 6 children will suffer from an ear infection before their third birthday, According to National Institute for Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

Ear infections or otitis media is an inflammation that is painful in the middle ear.

 Most middle ear infections occur between the eardrum and the Eustachian tube, which connects the nose, ears, and throat.

Ear infections are often a result of an illness such as a cold. The virus or bacteria are typically the reason.

The infection can cause inflammation and increase the size of the tubes.

The tube shrinks, and fluid accumulates around the eardrum, creating pain and pressure. Children have smaller and narrower tubes for Eustachian than adults.

Additionally, their tubes are more horizontal, so blocking them is more accessible.

Around 5-10 percent of children with an ear infection experience ruptured eardrums.

The eardrum typically heals within one to two weeks, and it is rare to cause permanent damage to the heart in children.

What causes ear infections in babies?

Children suffer from ear infections when they contract an upper respiratory illness, which causes the interior of the Eustachian tube (the tube that connects the middle ear with the nose and the throat’s back) to thicken and then become constricted and build up fluid.

The fluid is an ideal habitat for germs that cause infections that could be bacterial or viral.

 The congestion-related allergies can cause ear infections as well.

The discomfort and the loss of hearing the child might suffer from is due to fluid pushing stress on his eardrum.

A middle ear infection causes the fever your child may experience that his body fights.

Ear problems are much more prevalent among toddlers and infants because they have Eustachian tubes that are smaller, narrower, and more horizontal than those inside adults’ (or children older than) ears, making it much easier for fluids to become trapped and build up.

That’s why most children have at most one ear infection before the age of two.

Certain toddlers and babies may be more susceptible to frequent hearing infections.

 Although experts aren’t sure why some children suffer more infection in their ears than others, however, some factors may increase the chance of getting these infections, such as:

Extended family background of problems with the ear.

What causes ear infections in babies?

Smoking with a partner

When lying down, bottle-feeding (experts believe this can cause formula or milk to get into the middle ear, resulting in infection.

However, the sucking motion infants perform during breastfeeding does not cause the same harm)

There are two kinds of ear infections:

Infections of the middle ear, sometimes known as Otitis media, can be found inside the eardrum.

External ear infections that can occur in the ear canal, outside the eardrum

Learn further details about how ears work here.

Middle Ear Infection

Middle ear infections are the most prevalent.

The reason for this is viruses or bacteria entering the ear through the Eustachian tube, which flows from the back of the throat and into the middle of the ear.

Since children have small and narrow Eustachian tubes, which are susceptible to developing middle ear infections, their Eustachian tubes get longer as they age in height.

They are less likely to get ear infections.

An allergy to the sinus can cause swelling and obstruction in the Eustachian tube, which can lead to an infection.

Infections can cause an accumulation of fluid in the ear, which causes discomfort and pressure. The fluid typically drains within a few days with no treatment.

If it isn’t able to drain enough, your eardrum could explode, and there could be the appearance of a bloody or yellow discharge.

When this happens, it will be gone due to the pressure being alleviated. The eardrum will heal without treatment. However, it would help if you took care to avoid further infections.

 Outer ear infection  

Outer ear infections are typically caused by excessive water within the ear canal and can occur due to swimming in water that is dirty.

It’s also known as Otitis externa or swimmer’s ears.

Infections to the ear canal caused by cleaning the ear canal with cotton buds may result in an infection.

Children can also suffer from external ear infections when they poke beads, insects, or other things in their ears.

Glue ear

Glue the ear isn’t an infection but a common disorder that may occur in middle ear problems.

The fluid builds up inside the middle ear and does not disappear. It may not cause discomfort, but it can cause it to be challenging to hear for children.


One of the primary indications that a baby may have an ear problem is pulling or tugging on their ear.

However, AAP suggests that AAP mentions that this could be a reflex of self-soothing for a lot of infants or could be simply the baby’s way of exploring.

Other indicators to look out for are:

Crying more often than usual, especially in the position of lying down

Diarrhea or vomiting

Decreased appetite

Difficulties in sleep or difficulty sleeping or hearing

Fever or a headache

The white or yellow fluid that comes out of the ear

An unpleasant odor emanating through the ear


It’s not always feasible to stop ear infections from newborns; however, there are ways that caregivers can lower the likelihood of getting them:

Avoid contact with smoke

Smoking second-hand cigarettes and tobacco increase the chance of developing ear infections.

Practice good hygiene

Preventing the spread of germs wherever possible can help reduce the risk of ear infections.


The pneumococcal vaccine protects from Streptococcus pneumonia, a frequent bacteria that causes AOM. According to the National Institutes for Health’s Trusted Source research.

 It has been proven that children who receive this vaccination are less likely to suffer from Ear infections.

Annual influenza vaccination offered to infants aged 6 months, or older is also a way to keep ear infections from developing following influenza.


A baby’s milk contains ingredients that help build the baby’s immune system. That means babies who drink breast milk have a lower chance of developing infections caused by viruses, bacteria, and ear infections.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend trusted Source breastfeeding exclusively for the first 6 months, and after that, mix feeding after the baby is the age of 1 year or more to prevent the spread of infection.

Beware of foreign objects.

Placing things into the ear of the baby, for example, cotton swabs could result in bruises and cuts within the ear canal, which may become infected.

When to call a doctor

Parents should seek medical attention when the baby is suffering from:

A temperature in the range of 102.2degF (39degC) or greater

Discharge or fluid that comes out of the discharge or fluid coming from the

If symptoms become more severe or persist for more than two or three days, consult a physician.

Caregivers should also speak to a healthcare professional if the child has symptoms of OME for more than 1 month or is experiencing hearing loss.

   FAQ about what are the causes of Ear Infections in Babies   

How can babies get ear infections?

When your kid is suffering from a cold, sore throat, or has an upper respiratory infection, the bacteria could be transmitted to the middle ear through the Eustachian tube (the channels which join the middle ear with the throat). As a result of the inflammation, fluid accumulates in the middle eardrum.

How long do ear infection babies last?

Most ear infections heal without the need for antibiotics. The symptoms usually improve within a few days, and complete recovery takes about a week. But consult your physician when symptoms don’t improve after a day or two days.

How do you know if the baby has an ear infection?

  • Crying and screaming.
  • Trouble sleeping.
  • Fever (especially among infants and children)
  • Draining of fluid from the ear.
  • Problems with balance or awkwardness.
  • Problems are hearing or responding to quiet sounds.

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