An ear infection occurs when the Eustachian tubes fluids build up in your middle ear and it becomes swollen or blocked. Ear infections are more common in children because their Eustachian tube is much smaller and more narrow.

Three out of four children experience ear infection (otitis media) by the time they are 3 years old. In fact, ear infections are the most common illnesses in babies and young children.

Bacteria or viruses can cause a middle ear infection:

  • Bacteria, like Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae (nontypeable) are the two most common bacteria causing middle ear infection
  • Viruses, like those that cause colds can cause middle ear infection


Here are a few signs your child might show you if he or she has otitis media:

  • Does she tug or pull at her ears?
  • Does he cry more than usual?
  • Do you see fluid draining out of her ears?
  • Does he have trouble sleeping?
  • Can she keep her balance?
  • Does he have trouble hearing?
  • Does she seem not to respond to quiet sounds?

If you see any of these signs in a child, seek medical attention promptly.