Published Date: April 20, 2021

Critical Ear Infections Must Not Go Undetected

Childhood Infections Sometimes Common 

By definition, otitis media is a disease of the ears. if not treated, chronic ear infections have potential serious consequences such as temporary or permanent hearing loss. Fluid accumulates in the middle ear, pressure develops in the middle ear, and pain occurs in the middle ear.

Causes of childhood ear infections
Child suffering from painful otitis media and Impetigo.

Quite naturally then, doctors should directly treat the ears by whatever means possible.

Or should they? One great weakness in modern medical practice is failure to view the patient as a whole.

When a problem arises in one area of the body, this is often the only area that receives attention.

This is why antibiotics and surgery are used with such great frequency.

What happens if we ask the question, “What has occurred to render the child’s defenses unable to cope with a viral or bacterial insult?” In epidemics of strep throat, up to 60 percent of children are considered “carriers.”

Carriers of the bacteria, but are not sick. In studies of stress and infection, those under high stress are much more likely to become sick than those under low stress,  even though both may culture positive for bacteria such as strep. What is unique about the individuals who remain well?

That is, they have positive strep cultures, but do not get sick. Very strong immune systems head the charts, as possibly one thing that helps. If one child test healthy from an elementary school classroom, it might be discover that up to 40 percent of them culture positive for mycoplasma in their lungs.

I’m convinced the differences lies in immune defenses or host defenses. in 1994, there were over one thousand written research papers reviewed entitled; ‘Beyond Antibiotics.’  It became clear that the immune system could be positively or negatively influenced by at least six factors:

  • Diet
  • Nutrition
  • Lifestyle
  • Environment
  • Neuro musculoskeletal factors
  • Psychological factors

Imbalance in one or more areas might tip the scales in favor of the bacteria or virus. Maintaining balance in these areas often allows one to remain well despite exposure to bacteria or viruses.

The principles set forth Beyond Antibiotics have now been used successfully by hundreds of thousands of patients of all ages around the world.

The growing consensus is that by improving host defenses one can reduce the rate of infection and reduce reliance on antibiotic drugs. Can the same principles be applied to childhood otitis media? Can the same principles be applied to prevention as well as treatment?

It has been determined that, through overwhelmingly positive feedback, the suffering of middle ear problems can be reduced through improved overall health and vitality.

Otitis media is an inflammation of the middle ear. All the events that occur in the middle ear – swelling, pain, infection, complications – are important and must be addressed. However, these events may only be the sequel to events that occur elsewhere in the body.

Causes of childhood ear infections
Baby resting after treatment of middle ear infection and  antibiotics.

Killing bacteria may at times, be necessary. Air bourn pathogens are all around.

But as you read this information, keep in mind that optimizing immune function is highly desirable regardless of age or condition.

The cause of otitis media is not fully understood. What probably occurs is a multiplicity of events that interact to take advantage of lowered immune function, underdeveloped eustachian tube muscles, respiratory congestion, excessive mucus production, nutritional inadequacy, or any number of other factors.

Now, let me present a synthesis of the major contributing factors involving middle ear issues. In each case, prevention and treatment solutions are available that take advantage of our understanding of the causes presented here.

The four main causes of ‘otitis media’ (which contributes to hearing loss) are:

  • Allergy and Environmental Sensitivity.
  • Infection.
  • Mechanical Obstruction.
  • Nutrient Insufficiency.

Allergy and Environmental Sensitivity


Allergy is called the great masquerader because it can contribute to and mimic, many illnesses with which we don’t usually associate allergy. From recurrent colds to bronchitis, bed wetting to headaches, enlarged tonsils to diarrhea, allergy can play a significant role.

To children with recurrent middle ear infection, allergy is indeed the “great masquerader.”

Causes of childhood ear infections
  Girl with impaired hearing gets medical attention for allergies.

Not all children with allergies develop middle ear problems, and not all children with middle ear problems have them because of allergies.

But in children whose earaches are due to allergy, neglecting to treat the allergy (or the underlying factors that lead to the development of allergies) often results in recurrent infections.

Evidence demonstrating the role of allergy in middle ear problems has been steadily accumulating over the past four decades. A study  of 540 children by W. Leonard Draper, M.D., showed that secretory otitis media was more than twice as frequent in allergic children than in non-allergic children.

Dr. Draper also noted, in a study of 100 allergic children, that approximately 50 percent had fluid in the ears. Poor eustachian tube function – believed to be one of the prime factors leading to the development of middle ear infection – has been found to occur in almost one-third of allergic children.


Under certain conditions, bacteria present in the upper respiratory tract find their way up the eustachian tube into the middle ear. Once in the middle ear chamber, they contribute to the damaging events with which we associate infection.

When middle ear fluid is cultured for bacteria, the most common bacteria found are Haemophilus influenzae and Streptococcus pneumoniae. These are called pathogenic organisms, which refers to their ability to produce disease.

Cases of otitis media in which S. pneumoniac is involved tend to occur with severe pain and fever, but more commonly affect both ears.

Mechanical Obstruction

Otitis media can when the eustachian tube is blocked, or obstructed, by physical or mechanical means. The most common factors associated with mechanical blockage of the eustachian tube are swollen tonsils or adenoids.

It was this association that prompted the widespread use of tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy in the early days of treating ear infections.

The cause of swollen tonsils or adenoids is not fully understood, but many doctors believe they can be caused or aggravated by allergies. Thus, allergies can lead to the development of one form of mechanical obstruction.

There is another form of mechanical obstruction that further contributes to the development of middle ear problems (and quite possibly the tonsillar and adenoid swelling in some children) called biomechanical obstruction.

Biomechanical obstruction refers to blockage that is due to problems involving the structural components surrounding the ear and eustachian tube.

Nutrient Insufficiency

Over the past two decades, our understanding of nutrition has expanded rapidly. For instance, we know that a child’s intake of dietary fats can either enhance or impair immune function. Intake of the wrong types of fats not only predisposes a child to developing recurrent infections, but to inflammatory conditions as well.

Deficiency of certain trace elements and vitamins causes a child’s metabolic machinery to go awry, even if essential fats are taken in proper proportion. If all is well, regarding the intake of vitamins, minerals, and fats, there are still a host of dietary factors that can upset the balance.

These are important considerations in childhood ear infections. Understanding them can allow you to avoid some things that put your child at risk to ear infections, and to things that will optimize your child’s resistance to disease in general.

You Got That Loving Feeling


From the moment babies are born, these tiny human beings start communicating with the world around them. The vital connection between you and your infants depends on this communication.

Causes of childhood ear infections
         Infant born with hearing loss

Infants will use extensive body language, facial expressions, and all sorts of verbal sounds to interact with you. These movements and sound will eventually evolve into ‘bonding’ language.

But until they do, you may have an incredibly difficult time understanding your infant’s’ attempts to tell you things.

How many times have you wished you could look into your babies’ minds and know what was going on in there? How many parents have felt the instinctual longing to bond, extract a thought, or a word from their troubled infants?

The inability to understand your infant is certainly there because you don’t try hard enough, nor is it because the infants abandon their attempts to express themselves.

Infants have an instinctual need to communicate with you, just as you have an instinctual need to understand them.

Infants are born with abundant intelligence. However, they have a limited means to let you know what their thoughts and needs are. The muscles that allow speech to form are undeveloped, restricting the infant from participating in verbal language.

Imagine how it must feel to be a baby who has many specific needs and thoughts to express, but has no effective way to make those specific needs or thoughts understood.

At times, it must be frustrating for these small and socially dependent beings to live with these limitations.

Communication Is One Of The Highest Forms Of Social Interaction. 


Leading researchers in infant behavior have determined that social interaction is crucial to all infants’ development. They have further concluded that for a caregiver to withhold social responses to an infant’s attempts to communicate is one of the most disruptive things that can occur in the infant’s learning process.

What can you do to encourage this learning process? Here is where SIGN with your BABY contribute to your infant’s development. Imagine how your babies might feel if one day you started using simple hand movements to communicate.

Causes of childhood ear infections
   Little girl suffering from partial hearing loss.

Let’s say you make a particular motion during a certain daily activity, such as eating.

Soon your infants associate that movement with the situation or activity that was taking place when the motion was introduced.

They begin to experiment with their own hands and discover they can replicate the movements you make.

Receiving reinforcement from you, babies quickly learn that by making this motion, they can communicate their needs and wants.

The time between newborn birth and when your infants utter their first recognizable words can be a time of miscommunication or a time when your communication is less than precise.

This does not have to be the case. These precious months can be rich in meaningful and effective infant/parent interaction.

Using manual communication with your infants can help build a solid foundation for mutual understanding, dramatically contributing to the bonding process.

Prenatal Issues


The complexity of the ear means that it is vulnerable to damage from a wide variety of sources – disease, genetic disorders, infection, noise, or accidents.

Causes of childhood ear infections
           Working structure of the inner ear

Each age has its unique susceptibility: the fetus, because the ear mechanism is undergoing rapid development; the child, vulnerable to a host of ototoxic diseases; the adult, prey to the disintegration of the ear due to normal aging.

PRENATAL CAUSES OF HEARING LOSS. Loss of hearing from prenatal causes occurs in between 7 and 20 percent of deaf and hard-of-hearing people.

Significantly, most of these prenatal causes are preventable. The three major threats to the hearing mechanism of a woman’s unborn baby are viral diseases, ototoxic drugs (drugs that can harm hearing), and the woman’s health during pregnancy.

Of these, the biggest threat to prenatal ear development is viral disease contracted by a pregnant mother.

Causes of childhood ear infections
New mom with hearing impaired child.

The most dangerous of all the viral diseases from the standpoint of hearing is rubella, though damage also can be caused by the mother’s infection with influenza, mumps, toxoplasmosis (protozoan infection), cytomegalovirus (CMV), and herpes.

In fact, almost any severe infection can damage the developing fetal hearing mechanism, especially during the first trimester, when the fetus seems to be especially vulnerable.

Only the common cold appears to carry no threat to an unborn child’s ears.


A mother who contacts German measles during the first three months of pregnancy may give birth to a child with some degree of hearing loss.

Typically, the pregnant woman experiences just a mild rash and fever, but she may have no symptoms at all and not even realize she has been infected.

About one third of children born to children born to mothers who contract rubella may be deaf; especially if it occurs in the first few months of pregnancy.

However, there have been cases in which a baby sustained hearing loss when the mother contracted rubella as late as the seventh month of pregnancy.

The mother can also infect her baby long after she contracts rubella, since the virus may linger in her body and go on to injure an embryo that is conceived weeks or months after the infection appears to have subsided.

In some cases, the child’s deafness may be progressive, because the virus persists in the child’s body after birth.


Prenatal infection by toxoplasmosis can also lead to a hearing loss. Up to 45 percent of American women of reproductive age carry this organism, usually passed on by infected cats and their waste, and one baby out of every 800 will develop toxoplasmosis in the womb from an infected mother.

An infected pregnant woman’s doctor can’t confirm the disease unless they’ve had a negative toxoplasmosis test early in their pregnancy and subsequently test positive for the infection.

Most babies born with toxoplasmosis don’t show evidence of the infection immediately, but many physicians advise drug treatment anyway.


Up to half of all children infected with CMV in the womb will have a bilateral, sensorineural hearing loss of varying severity. Discovered in 1956, cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a member of the herpes virus family; it’s the largest, most complex virus known to infect humans.

The virus doesn’t usually cause any symptoms in healthy people, but it may set off symptoms like the common cold in a pregnant woman. Hearing loss in infants is most often profound, although some babies sustain milder losses.

Cytomegalovirus infection in the womb is now considered a possible cause of many previously unknown cases of non-genetic hearing loss.

Something That May Interest You


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14 thoughts on “Causes of Childhood Ear Infections | A Gallery Of Parental Concerns

  1. Childhood ear infection may be common as you said. I was touched with the infant who is troubled with his ear infection while Mom and Dad are pacifying the child not really hitting the right solution.

    Thanks for creating awareness on childhood ear infection.

    Such awareness about the causes, possible means of communication and bonding would really alleviate growing problems.

    I find the Certified Coach in Self-Esteem Elevation for Children Program useful not only for ear infected children but for all children in general. It will be beneficial especially for parents with their first born coming.

    • Ronald Kennedy

      Valuable information such as this, hopefully will keep many parents abreast as to hearing disabilities and ear infections of a toddler. The main focus is complete family support and understanding. 

  2. Kokontala

    Good day, I’m pleased to meet you. I have gone through the information you provided, and I just don’t have enough words to express how important and helpful I find it to be. It’s of utmost importance that we should all be aware of otitis media and treat it to avoid both temporary or permanent hearing loss. Thank you so much for providing this crucial information.

    • Ronald Kennedy

      Thank you for checking in. I’m glad you feel my article can serve some value. When it comes to otitis media, although very painful it can be treated, if caught in enough time. The hearing in that ear will be temporary infected. A good ENT specialist can take care of the problem.

  3. An ear infection is usually due to bacteria and often starts after the child has had a throat infection, cold or other upper respiratory infection. If the upper respiratory infection is due to bacteria, it may spread to the middle ear. So, I know we must be careful. as parents. Thanks for these tips you gave us on this post.

    • Ronald Kennedy

      Yes Ann, I know parents can’t protect their child against every bacterial element in the air and different type of infections will set in. A lot of these issues are due to our environment. If you live where it’s constantly cold most of the time, the chances of illness will be much higher as opposed to a warmer climate.

  4. LineCowley

    This was a very informative post on causes of ear infections. An ear infection can be so painful, and if a child cannot tell you what is wrong, it makes it so difficult. When we were growing up, my twin sister on a regular basis got middle ear infection. My parents didn’t want to continuously have to give her antibiotics, so eventually had it x-rayed. It transpired that there was a little bone that was blocking the drainage of fluid, so she had surgery to remove it, and voila, no more ear infections.

    • Ronald Kennedy

      Regarding your growing up days, It’s great news that your parents took care of your twin sister problem. With greater advancements in medicine, I feel issues can be caught earlier eliminating damaging problems down the road.

  5. This is a fascinating and extremely informative post.

    Thankfully my two girls have been very healthy from they were babies and therefore we have only had to deal with a few ear infections.  Unfortunately one of the major ones was because our daughter at age 1 had an ear infection just before we went on holiday.  She had had antibiotics and we hoped that it had cleared up.  However, the flight must have affected her because is became worse.  She was such a good child that she just slept away until we figured it out and got it sorted.

    But my point is that it is so so difficult to know what is wrong with your children when they are unable to tell you.  And as you point out, it must be terribly frustrating for them.  It kills me to think of a child in pain and me as a parent not knowing and therefore not doing anything to help it.

    • Ronald Kennedy

      Yes Geoff, that’s the killing part that hurt as parents, when your child is bothered by an hearing issue but to young to say anything. You never find out until later, after that NET visit then all information is given out. Early detection is difficult, but important.

  6. Wow, this article was really amazing indeed. It taught me so much, and it hit me differently. Because as a kid, I had so much ear infections and ailments concerning my ear and my child send to have gotten this genetically from me. So this article was very important or even priceless I must say. Thank you so much for sharing this amazing piece

    • Ronald Kennedy

      Thank you my friend for commenting. Ear infections, and even partial or total deafness, is a global issue that affect many people around the world. I feel good when I can write articles that people can relate too.

  7. Thank you so much for this awesome post on some of the causes of childhood ear infections.  I really enjoyed reading this informative and important article and I found out some important information I never knew.  I did not realize that diet could contribute to ear infections but it makes sense considering a bad diet can affect the immune system.

    • Ronald Kennedy

      I’m glad you found some value in my post. My main job when I write is to educate my readers. A good diet is important in life. You hear that almost on a daily basis, how important children’s diets are. Keeping our young healthy, hearing & non-hearing, is important.

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