Ear infection: Complications and risk factors

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Ear infection often occurs as a result of an infection in the middle ear. This can occur due to fluid discharge in the middle ear, which gets infected and leads to blockage.


Many cases of ear infection do not report long term problems; however, persistent fluid build up and infection may lead to serious complications.

  • Impaired hearing. Ear infection can lead to a mild loss of hearing which usually recovers after the infection goes away. Persistent infection of fluid accumulation may lead to a more severe hearing loss, in such cases, medical treatment may be necessary. A permanent damage to the eardrum or middle ear may result in permanent loss of hearing.Ear infection
  • Developmental or speech delays. Permanent or temporary loss in hearing may lead to delayed speech or other social development skills in infants and young children.
  • Infection spreading. Infections that are not treated or do not respond to the treatments being administered may cause infection to spread to the tissues nearby. An infection that affects the bony projection behind the ear, the mastoid may lead to mastoiditis. The infection usually causes the bone to get damaged resulting in the formation of cysts filled with pus. However, infections spreading to the brain tissues and the tissues in the skull are often a rare situation.

Risk factors

  • Age.  Infants and young children between the ages f 6 months and 2 years are vulnerable to ear infections sue to the shape and size of the Eustachian tubes and their underdeveloped immune systems.
  • Infant feeding. Infants who are fed from a bottle, while lying down are more susceptible of incurring an ear infection.
  • Child care groups. Children taken care of in daycare centers along with other children are susceptible to infections and colds as they are more exposed to infections than at home.
  • Poor air quality. Tobacco smoke, irritants or severe air pollution can contribute to ear infections.
  • Seasonal factors. Infections such as ear infections often occur during the fall or winter season.
  • Family history. If the family the child belongs to have a history of ear infections or if anybody in the family has suffered from it, your child may be susceptible to the condition as well.
  • Ethnicity. Statistics show that Intuits of Canada and Alaska and American Indians are more susceptible to suffering from ear infections.

Learn More

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