Five out of every six children in Goodyear will experience at least one ear infection by the time they turn three. It’s as much a rite of passage as learning the ABCs and riding a bike without training wheels. Chances are you’d probably like to avoid sitting around in a waiting room with an inconsolable child as much as possible. We can help!
Ear Infections and Children: a Classic Pairing
There’s no way around the fact that children are naturally prone to developing ear infections. After all, they’re the third most common reason for a visit to the pediatrician’s office. Adults can sometimes get ear infections too, but that’s much rarer. The reason boils down to basic anatomy: ear infections occur when fluid collects in the Eustachian tube, a narrow canal that connects the middle ear to the nostrils. Because children are still growing, their Eustachian tubes are smaller and laid out more horizontally than those in adults, factors that prohibit fluid drainage and increase the probability of ear infections. Additionally, their tonsils and adenoids are larger than yours; frequent contact with germs and viruses makes them susceptible to inflammation, swelling, fluid buildup and associated ear infections. The next time your child whines about never getting a fair shake, consider these truths for a moment before sending them to their room for a time-out!
Stopping Ear Infections Before They Get Started
The only real “cure” for persistent ear infections is outgrowing them (or ear tubes, but that is another blog post). But until somebody invents a device that can speed up the clock, we’ll have to settle for trying to prevent them from occurring in the first place. The following tips should help:
- Breastfeed your baby if at all possible. Mother’s milk is packed full of vitamins and nutrients that help keep infants healthy; children who are breastfed for at least 12 months experience fewer ear infections.
- If breastfeeding isn’t an option, bottle feed your child in an upright, sitting position. Avoid giving your baby a pacifier or wean them off it by the age of 12 months to lower the risk of ear infections.
- Do not expose your infant to cigarette smoke. Avoid other forms of air pollution, as well.
- Make sure your child’s immunizations are up to date.
- Teach your child good handwashing habits; make sure they wash their hands frequently with soap and warm water to help prevent the spread of germs. Practice what you preach and wash your own hands often, as well.
- Keep toys and dirty objects away from your child’s mouth.
- If your child is enrolled in daycare or preschool, look for a smaller institution. Fewer kids = fewer germs.
- If your child is experiencing a fever, strong pain or has blood or pus leaking from their ear, take them to the doctor.
Your Goodyear ENT doctor can answer any questions you might have about ear infections and provide more tips on preventing them.