If you’re a parent, you’re probably all too aware of the commonality of ear infections among your child. In fact, according to the National Institute of Health, five out of six will have at least one ear infection by their third birthday.

Even though they’re common, how serious are these infections? Read on as our AFC Urgent Care Sevierville team provides some answers.

What Causes an Ear Infection?

The most common type of ear infection among children is an infection of the middle ear, in which the middle ear doesn’t get enough fresh air from the Eustachian tube.

Normally, the air in your child’s middle ear is passed through the Eustachian tube, which keeps the middle ear clean and dry. However, when there is not enough fresh air ventilating the middle ear, such as when the Eustachian tube is clogged or blocked, the area becomes damp, stagnant and warm, creating a perfect breeding ground for germs.

Common Symptoms of Ear Infections

  • Ear pain, especially when lying down
  • Tugging or pulling at an ear
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Crying more than usual
  • Fussiness
  • Trouble hearing or responding to sounds
  • Loss of balance
  • Fever of 100 F or higher
  • Drainage of fluid from the ear
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite

Are Ear Infections Dangerous?

The occasional ear infection is much less dangerous than chronic ear infections. Although almost all chronic ear infections can be treated, sometimes your child might need to take medication for several months to eliminate a lingering ear infection.

Your doctor will likely prescribe antibiotics to get rid of the infection, so we encourage you not to panic if ear infections are common among your child. However, it is important to note that leaving an ear infection untreated is not good for your child’s health. We’ve listed some potential health complications below.

Possible Health Complications Caused By Chronic Ear Infections

  • Infection of the mastoid bone behind the ear (mastoiditis)
  • Hardening of the tissue in the middle ear (tympanosclerosis)
  • Damage to or wearing away of the bones of the middle ear, which help with hearing
  • Damage to the part of the ear that helps with balance

If your child is suffering from an ear infection, don’t wait to get the treatment that he or she needs! Visit AFC Urgent Care Sevierville today.