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Ear infections can be incredibly painful, even more so for babies and children.  Like colds and the flu, they are more common during the winter months.  Although it is almost impossible to avoid ever getting one, there are a number of precautions you can take to help prevent your child from suffering with frequent ear infections.

  1. Don’t Smoke around Them.

Second-hand smoke creates irritation that can cause ear infections.  Do not smoke around your child, and make sure others don’t either.  This includes day care workers and babysitters too.   It’s best if no one smokes in your home, even if your child is not there, since the irritants can remain airborne long after the cigarette is put out.

  1. Keep Them Healthy.

Ear infections are not contagious, but they are often caused by blockage of the Eustachian tubes, which prevents drainage of fluid from the middle ear.  Colds and the flu virus cause respiratory inflammation, which results in blockage, making them indirectly responsible for otitis media.  Encouraging your child to wash their hands frequently, and keeping them away from other children who are sick will make them less likely to develop an ear infection.  You can also help prevent them from getting sick by making sure they have received all recommended vaccinations and immunizations.

  1. Treat Respiratory Allergies.

Allergies can also can swelling that creates blocked Eustachian tubes, so a child with untreated allergies will likely experience more frequent ear infections.  If your child has allergies, or you think they might, make an appointment to see a specialist for testing.

  1. Prop Your Baby up When Bottle-Feeding

Part of the reason children are more likely than adults to get ear infections is that their Eustachian tubes are much smaller, and angled differently, and thus more easily blocked.  If babies are fed on their backs, or allowed to hold their own bottles while lying down, liquid can travel up their Eustachian tubes into the middle ear, which can cause an infection.

Your child should see a doctor if they have a fever over 100 degrees, if they have discharge from the ear(s), and if the symptoms persist for more than 48 hours.  If frequent ear infections persist, your child may need tubes put in their ears to allow for better drainage.  Please keep in mind that the knowledgeable physicians at Oklahoma Otolaryngology Associates are here to help you with all of your ENT needs.  If your child is suffering with a chronic ear infection, call us today to set up an appointment.

Further Reading

http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing/pages/earinfections.aspx

http://www.cdc.gov/getsmart/antibiotic-use/URI/ear-infection.html

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