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What triggers an ear infection in children?

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For children, the most common trigger of an ear infection is an upper respiratory viral infection, such as a cold or the flu. These disorders can make the Eustachian tube so swollen that air can no longer flow into the middle ear. Allergies -- to pollen, dust, animal dander, or food -- can produce the same effect as a cold or flu, as can smoke, fumes, and other environmental toxins. Bacteria can cause an ear infection directly, but usually these organisms come on the heels of a viral infection or an allergic reaction, quickly finding their way into the warm, moist environment of the middle ear. Invading bacteria can wreak major havoc, turning inflammation into infection and provoking fevers.

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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What bacteria can cause ear infections?

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