Ear infections are one of the most common childhood ailments in Evans; in fact, more kids visit the doctor for ear infections than any other reason. We want our children to be happy and healthy, and unexpected trips to the doctor’s office never rank highly on lists of “favorite things to do,” so preventing ear infections can keep everybody happy.
Why Children Are Prone to Ear Infections
Anybody can develop an ear infection, but they are far more prevalent in children, especially those under the age of six. We can blame this on anatomy: kids are still growing, and so are their organs. One of these – the Eustachian tube – is smaller and more horizontal than that of adults’, and therefore prone inflammation and swelling, which can prevent fluids from draining normally and lead to ear infections.
Children’s’ tonsils and adenoids have the opposite problem: they are larger than those of grownups’ and frequently come into contact with germs and viruses that cause swelling and inflammation. This results in a similar buildup of fluids that can also lead to infection.
Minimizing the Risk of Ear Infections
There isn’t much you can do about your child’s anatomy; rest assured that they will eventually grow up, and ear infections will become far less common. In the meantime, the following tips can help minimize their risk for ear infections:
- Breastfeed your baby if possible. Mother’s milk contains vitamins and nutrients that help keep babies healthy; infants who are breastfed for at least 12 months experience fewer ear infections.
- If breastfeeding isn’t an option and you opt to bottle feed, make sure your child is seated upright when being fed.
- Avoid giving your infant a pacifier or wean them off it by their first birthday.
- Do not expose your child to cigarette smoke.
- Make sure your child’s immunizations are up to date.
- Teach your child good handwashing habits; have them wash their hands often with plenty of soap and warm water to help prevent the spread of germs.
- Keep toys and dirty objects out of your child’s mouth.
- If your child attends daycare or preschool, look for as small a classroom as possible.
Your Evans ENT doctor is always happy to share additional tips on preventing ear infections and keeping your kids healthy.