Ear infections are common in children and there are a number of ways to prevent these infections. Have a look on how common these infections are and what you can do to prevent ear infections.
Last Updated: 23 October 2020
How Ear infections happen?
Ear infection is also called otitis media which is an inflammation of the middle ear that is usually caused by bacteria. Most ear infections happen between the eardrum and Eustachian tube, which connects ears, nose and throat. Cold or flu can cause ear infections and during infections the Eustachian tube narrows and fluid builds behind the eardrum, causing pressure and pain. Children have shorter tubes, so these tubes easily get blocked.
Ear infections are common in children between six months and three years of age. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, five out of six children have an ear infection before their third birthday. Mild ear infections can be treated easily and chronic ear infections can sometimes delay speech development and leads to hearing loss.
Symptoms of Ear Infections in babies
The following are the symptoms of ear infections in babies.
· Tugging or pulling at their ear
· Pain in one ear
· Vomiting, nausea and diarrhea
· Unusual crying
· Sleeping difficulties
· Fever or headache
· Reduced appetite
· Muffled hearing
· Sense of fullness in one ear
· Fluid draining from ears
Who are at risk of Ear Infections?
· Children younger than five years may develop ear infections since they have short Eustachian tubes
· Children who attend daycare since the chance of exposure to germs is more common where there are lots of kids
· Children with cleft palate
· Children who could not get breast milk
· Children exposed to air pollution, mainly cigarette smoke
· Children who drink from a bottle and who use pacifiers tend to have more ear infections
· Children who have upper respiratory infections during winter may have higher chances of ear infections
Prevent Ear Infections
1. Children who have breastfeeding for at least one year may have less chance of developing ear infections. If bottle feeding is the option, hold your child in an upright, sitting position. The antibiotics in the breast milk help prevent infections and since the nipple is far from baby’s mouth during a breastfeed, the flow of milk is well controlled.
2. Avoid your child in getting exposed to air pollutants and cigarette smoke. Children exposed to secondhand smoke and tobacco smoke has higher chances of developing ear infections. The particles in the tobacco can congest the tube in the inner ear.
3. Avoid using pacifiers after 12 months.
4. Avoid contact with germs by washing your hands and your child’s hands. Keep dirty objects away from your child’s mouth.
5. Keep track on vaccinations, especially pneumococcal and flu vaccines are mandatory
6. Always give plenty of fluids for swallowing, which may help in relieving pressure in the ears.
7. Cold and flu can cause ear infections. Minimize the risk of your baby acquiring upper respiratory infections.
8. Make your child’s environment dust and allergy free.
Treatment of Ear Infections
Most ear infections get subsided without medicines. Some infections require treatment with antibiotics. If you notice a high fever, blood discharge from your child’s ear, contact your doctor immediately.