Ear-Nose and Throat Doctor (ENT) Questions Molds

Can mold exposure cause an ear infection?

My son has been affected by a severe ear infection. I later found some mold growth near my wall air conditioner unit. Could this have caused the infection?

7 Answers

Cause and effect can be difficult to prove. Mold exposure can result in an allergic response (to varying degrees in people) and allergies are a risk factor for ear infections.
It can be related. Mold, especially if there is an allergy, can cause nasal congestion which can block the Eustachian tube and lead to a middle ear infection. In general, breathing a lot of mold is not healthy and should be eliminated.  

The mold you see near the air conditioner is not usually airborne. Other agents provoke the nasal congestion and possible adenoid inflammation, which can then block the eustachian tubes leading to obstruction and secondary infection of the middle ear.
Yes it can cause fungal infection of the ear.
Yes there are two types of ear infections: the ear canal type and the middle ear type. But the only way of documenting the ear canal one would be with a culture taken from the ear canal by the doctor treating him. Mold allergies can cause nasal sinus infections and with all allergies in the upper respiratory tract swell can cause the eustachian tube to swell. This is the leading cause for middle ear infections.
Unlikely in a child. Usually due to URI. Occasionally mold can cause ear canal infection in patient's using antibiotic ear drops. get the air conditioner cleaned or replace it. Mold breeds in water accumulation;
You didn't specify whether it is an external ear infection or a middle ear infection. This is an important distinction and mold exposure would only affect an external ear infection if at all.