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An ear infection, when occurring in the middle ear, is also called otitis media. The Eustachian tubes equalize pressure and allow for drainage of the ear into the nose. Sometimes, with a cold, the flu or an allergy, your Eustachian tubes can become swollen and trap fluid in the middle ear. This fluid becomes the perfect place for bacteria and viruses to grow, which can lead to an infection.
Ear infections are common in infants and children because their Eustachian tubes are very narrow—which make them more likely to clog—and harder to drain. And although you may think that ear infections only happen to children, they can affect adults, too.
Infants and children may show different ear infection signs —increased irritability, difficulty sleeping, tugging on their ears, or a loss of appetite.
There are many causes and they are more common during the fall and winter seasons when cold and flu susceptibility is higher.
Inflammation and congestion from allergies can also lead to ear infections. People with seasonal allergies may have a greater risk of an ear infection when pollen counts are high because their allergic reactions are likely to cause congestion and inflammation .
So, how do you know if you have an ear infection or allergies? A simple blood test – together with your medical history - can help underlying allergen triggers. If you think you, a child, family member or loved one has allergies, don’t try to manage the problem on your own. Getting an accurate diagnosis and optimal treatment plan for your allergies is an important part of keeping your ears healthy. Be sure to consult with your healthcare professional.