The main cause of an ear infection in a child is usually a build-up of fluid in the Eustachian tube. These tubes can become easily clogged, especially in infants and toddlers. When this happens, germs and bacteria can thrive and cause an infection in your little one's ear. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) offers a list of the most common causes of ear infections, including:
Some children have a higher risk of getting ear infections. Risk factors listed by the NIH include:
Also, if your child spends a lot of time drinking from a sippy cup or bottle while on his back, be aware that this may put him at a higher risk of developing an ear infection.
Infections occur most often in the winter. Ear infections are not contagious, but the common cold or other illnesses that are often spread among children can sometimes be the cause. According to the AAP, almost 90% of children suffer from an ear infection at least once before school age, usually between six months and four years of age.