10 Risk Factors For Ear Infections

Ear infections happen when the middle ear suffers from inflammation and fluid buildup, causing mild to severe hearing difficulties. Children in particular are more vulnerable to this condition, though adults aren’t totally in the clear, either.

Are ear infections dangerous?

Ear infections are definitely not worth setting aside. Serious complications arise when it is left untreated, as these could cause hearing loss, facial nerve paralysis, meningitis, and even mastoiditis. And the following factors put you at this risk. Some of them may surprise you…

1. Age


Age plays an important factor in developing ear infections. Children are more prone to it since their immune systems aren’t fully developed yet, and their eustachian tubes are still small.

How high the ground you’re standing on could also yield the unexpected…

2. High Altitude

Rasto SK

Altitude changes affect the ears this way; it can cause barotrauma, which is when the eustachian tube gets blocked due to difference in pressure. A vacuum effect occurs, stretching the eardrum and causing fluid buildup.

Temperature also might have something to do with it…

3. Seasonal Changes

Jaroslav Machacek

Weather changes not only cause cold and flu season, but also ear infection season as well. Dr. Christopher Singh explains that the temperatures per se do not cause ear infections, but that they can be triggered by congestion which can cause pressure on the ears.

Who knew that something so soothing can cause problems…

4. Pacifier Use

Nor Gal

Babies use pacifiers because it reminds them of being in the womb, but it can be dangerous. The sucking makes the eustachian tube open too wide, which causes fluids from the throat to trickle into the middle ear, leading to infection.

Baby bottles can cause a similar reaction…

5. Bottle Feeding

Yellow Cat

Like pacifiers, bottle feeding can likewise cause ear infections. When babies feed while lying down can allow fluid to go up the eustachian tube and build up there. In addition, sugar [if there are any] allows bacteria growth.

Cigs, on the other hand, do more than damage the lungs…

6. Exposure to Smoking


For adults, smoking can affect the immune system and damage the tissues in the nose and throat, and in turn, the ears. Meanwhile, a study made by Harvard researchers says that secondhand smoking increases the risk of ear infections for children. 

That said, the quality of the air we breathe always matters, especially for our kids…

7. Air Pollution


According to an article by Reuters Health, air pollution is linked to a higher risk of ear infection among babies and children. Several things like exposure to secondhand smoke and nitrogen oxide increases the likelihood of children getting middle ear infections.  

Aversion to certain factors in the environment makes you prone to a host of conditions…

8. Allergies

 Brian A Jackson

People with seasonal or year-round allergies are more vulnerable to ear infections than those who don’t. Allergies often cause congestion and inflammation which then irritate the eustachian tube, stopping it from functioning properly.

Physical anomalies are also at play…

9. Having a Cleft Palate


Children who are born with a cleft palate are at high risk of developing ear infections as they are more prone to fluid build-up in the middle ear.

And surprisingly, even race becomes a factor…

10. Race


Certain racial groups and ethnicities are more likely to get ear infections than others. One study found white children, followed closely by Hispanic children, were more likely than other groups to have ear infections.

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