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What causes an ear infection?

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The middle ear is a small space behind your ear drum that's supposed to stay clean and dry because air normally passes up from behind your nose through the Eustachian tube. When there isn't enough fresh air moving through the middle ear, the area becomes damp, stagnant, and warm -- a perfect breeding ground for germs.

Allergies, post nasal drainage, sinus infections, common cold viruses, and adenoid problems can clog the Eustachian tube or block air from passing into the middle ear. The Eustachian tube in infants and children is often too soft or immature to stay open.

SOURCES: American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery. 

Academy of American Family Physicians. 

Merck. 

National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

Reviewed by Dan Brennan on March 23, 2019

SOURCES: American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery. 

Academy of American Family Physicians. 

Merck. 

National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

Reviewed by Dan Brennan on March 23, 2019

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How can children get ear infections?

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