Ear infections are painful and uncomfortable. Unfortunately, they can be a regular part of your child’s experience for a variety of reasons. This means it’s important to work at preventing them with the right steps. Here’s what to know about ear infections and what you can do to keep your children healthy and comfortable.
The Eustachian tubes connect the throat to the middle ear. If they become blocked, they trap fluid that would usually drain from the middle ear. This can cause pain or discomfort and become a favorable environment for the breeding of viruses or bacteria. If the fluid builds, it increases pressure on the eardrum, which can be uncomfortable. Children and infants are more likely to get ear infections after they have suffered from a virus, a throat infection, or an allergy attack. This is because a child’s Eustachian tubes are much smaller than an adult’s and can be more susceptible to trapping bacteria. It’s important to keep an eye out for symptoms in your child, especially in the following two to seven days after they become sick from colds or infections.
Even though ear infections themselves are not contagious, talking or coughing can pass on the highly contagious viral and bacterial infections that trigger those ear infections. Make sure to treat colds right away with fluids and medicine to prevent the likelihood of it turning into an ear infection. Additionally, start taking zinc at the first signs of a cold and within 24 hours of the first symptoms. Zinc is available as a mouth spray, tablet, lozenge, or supplement at most pharmacies. Extra Vitamin C can be found in fruits, vegetables, juice, and as a supplement. Echinacea in a liquid or supplement enhances immune function. These things can help your child get over colds more quickly and reduce their chances of ear infection.
Beyond treating colds as soon as they appear, there are other ways to limit the chances of your child getting sick. Among these are the following.
- Don’t expose your child to secondhand smoke. There exists a link between secondhand smoke and frequent ear infections in children
- Frequently wash your child’s hands and your own. Dirty hands that touch ears create a chance of spreading harmful bacteria
- Don’t let your child put dirty items in their mouth
- Stop the use of a pacifier as soon as possible. Pediatricians have linked extended use of pacifiers and bottles with ear infections because they create negative pressure and suction so that bacteria in the mouth, such as strep, can get drawn into the Eustachian tubes.
- Don’t put a baby down for the night or for a nap with a bottle
- Don’t let sick children spend time together and limit exposure when your child or their playmates are ill
At WellCare Urgent Care, our team is available for convenient non-life-threatening emergencies when you or your child need medical attention. To get relief from ear infections for you or your child, we invite you to visit our website and meet with our team through virtual consultations or in-office visits.