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Why do ear infections often accompany a cold or the flu?

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The infection in the middle ear (the space behind the eardrum where tiny bones pick up vibrations and pass them along to the inner ear) very often accompanies a common cold, the flu, or other types of respiratory infections. This is because the middle ear is connected to the upper respiratory tract by a tiny channel known as the Eustachian tube. Germs that are growing in the nose or sinus cavities can climb up the Eustachian tube and enter the middle ear to start growing.

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 much medical care is accounted for by ear infections in the U.S.?

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