Middle ear infections account for up to 30 percent of pediatric office visits in America, and are second in prevalence only to the common cold. A child’s risk of getting ear infections decreases with age, as the structures of the ears enlarge and the immune system becomes stronger.
Middle ear infections often develop a few days after a cold or flu. Symptoms usually develop suddenly and can include ear pain, nasal congestion, coughing, fever, discharge from the ear, vomiting, loss of appetite and irritability. If the infection is severe, pus may drain from the ear. Young children may tug at the ear, which can indicate pain.
Ear infections are more likely associated with bacteria than viruses. In addition, there are several conditions that can cause the nasal passages to become inflamed, which leads to ear infections. These conditions include allergies, upper respiratory infections such as colds or influenza viruses.