What increases my risk for acute otitis media?

Acute otitis media affects both children and adults, but there are a few risk factors that determine who gets sick. While middle ear infections can be a regular occurrence for children between the ages of four months and four years, they are most susceptible between the ages of six and 18 months. Children get more ear infections because they have immature immune systems and the configuration of their Eustachian tube is shorter and straighter in a child than in an adult.

Because ear infections are a result of colds and viral infections, children who are cared for in group day care centers run the risk of developing otitis media more easily than their non-day care center peers. Also, babies who lie flat on their backs as they drink from a bottle tend to have more ear inflammation than those who do not.

In both adults and children, seasons play a large role in ear infections. Most people develop otitis media during fall and winter. Other factors that may make a child or adult more susceptible to ear infections include exposure to tobacco smoke, family history, and ethnicity. Research has shown that American Indians and Alaskan or Canadian Inuit Indians are more susceptible.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.