Otitis externa is an infection of the lining of the ear canal (outer ear). It can occur when water in the ear irritates the lining of the ear canal, which then develops a secondary bacterial or fungal infection.
Otitis media is an infection of the middle ear (behind the eardrum). Young children are more prone to otitis media because the tubes (Eustachian tubes) connecting the middle ear to the throat are shorter and softer. These tubes are also more prone to becoming blocked.
Children below three years old are most susceptible to ear infection. Children with weak immune systems are also more likely to get ear infections than healthy children. Family history also plays a part. A child is more likely to have recurrent middle ear infection if a parent or sibling had repeat ear infections.
Other risk factors include recurrent colds and upper respiratory infections and exposure to cigarette smoke. Being in a childcare centre with other children also increases risk as viruses can spread quickly among the children, causing colds that could lead to ear infections.
Age, weakened immune systems and family history of ear infection.
Recurrent colds and upper respiratory infections, exposure to cigarette smoke and being in a childcare centre with other children.