NEXT TO colds, middle ear infections are the most common childhood illness in the United States. We made an appointment to speak with John Bent, M.D., to help you better understand this health issue. Dr. Bent is Director of Pediatric Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery at Children’s Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City.
PARENT & CHILD: What typically causes an ear infection?
DR. JOHN BENT: They happen when the Eustachian tube [a passage that connects the middle ear to the back of the throat] becomes blocked, preventing air from flowing, which causes fluid and germs to become trapped. Children are prone to these infections because their Eustachian tubes are very narrow and lie more horizontally than an adult’s, making them easily blocked. Their immune systems are also immature, and they are encountering certain bacteria and viruses for the first time, which can cause frequent colds.