Now accepting Telehealth appointments. Schedule a virtual visit.
Skip to main content

Will My Child Grow Out of Ear Infections?

Will My Child Grow Out of Ear Infections?

Thanks to painful ear infections, you’ve stopped counting the nights of lost sleep for both you and your child. It may be of some comfort to know that you’re not alone — about 5 out of 6 infants will have at least one ear infection before their third birthday. But your child seems stuck in a never-ending cycle of ear infections, and you want to know whether there’s an end in sight.

The good news is that, yes, your child will likely grow out of these ear infections. In the meantime, we want to make sure that your child weathers these ongoing infections without incident.

At Advanced ENT & Allergy, Dr. Timothy Queen and our team provide comprehensive ear, nose, and throat services for children, and we can confirm that ear infections are very common in kids. What isn’t so common are repeated ear infections, and we want to pay close attention to these.

Why kids get ear infections so easily

To kick off this discussion, let’s first take a look at why kids are more vulnerable to ear infections, which mostly comes down to two things:

1. A matter of anatomy

Most ear infections occur in the middle ear, and the primary reason kids are in the line of fire is that their eustachian tubes are more horizontal and narrower than those in adults. 

These tubes connect the middle ear to the throat and are critical for drainage. When the eustachian tube is horizontal, and the passageway is smaller, fluid gets trapped, allowing bacteria to set up shop.

2. Lack of immunity

Your child hasn’t fully built up their immunity, so they’re less able to fight against harmful bacteria.

Given these circumstances and the number of colds and viruses a child encounters, ear infections are often part of growing up.

The good news is that, as your child grows, they build immunity and their eustachian tubes become wider and more angled, allowing them to leave childhood ear infections behind.

But what can we do in the meantime?

Treating ear infections — or not

Since ear infections are commonplace, we often prefer to leave well enough alone and let your child’s body fight back against the infection. In 80% of cases, ear infections clear up without incident and without medications. 

We prefer this approach because we don’t want your child to become resistant to antibiotics, which can be problematic later in life. By leaving the infections alone, your child can also build up immunity naturally.

There are some exceptions to this rule. For example, if your child is very young and unable to fight back (less than six months old), antibiotics might play a role. Or, if your child’s ear infection persists for more than a week, we might intervene with medications.

Another concern is recurring infections in your child. In these cases, we want to determine whether it’s best to let the infections run their course or whether we should step in to ensure that your child's hearing or speech development isn’t affected.

It’s impossible to say how we would treat your child’s recurring infections here, but it’s important that you bring them in so that we can intervene if we see signs of trouble.

For expert care of your child’s ear infections, please contact our office in Newport News, Virginia, to schedule a consultation.

You Might Also Enjoy...

4 Potential Culprits Behind Your Hearing Loss

4 Potential Culprits Behind Your Hearing Loss

You may find yourself asking people to repeat themselves or really needing to concentrate when someone is talking. Hearing loss affects millions of Americans for a variety of reasons, which we explore here.

5 Signs of Sinusitis

To call sinusitis common is an understatement — there are a whopping 73 million sick days due to this condition each year in the United States. Do you know how to spot the signs of a sinus infection?

How to Know If Your Child Has Sleep Apnea

Everyone benefits from a good night’s sleep, but kids especially need sleep during their developmental years. When a child has a sleep disorder like sleep apnea, they simply aren’t getting this crucial rest.