Eighty percent of children have at least one ear infection by the age of three. Moreover, at least twenty percent of those children have repeat infections, having at least six by the time they are seven years old. Ear infections are known to be the most prevalent ailment in young children and babies so it is wise to learn their symptoms, causes, and treatments in order to avoid frequent ear infections.
Understanding Ear Infections
Understanding ear infections requires a bit of knowledge of human anatomy. An ear consists of three main parts, namely the inner, middle, and outer ear. The Eustachian tube is a narrow tube connecting the back of the nose and throat to the middle ear. The Eustachian tube can become irritated and swollen due to allergies and upper respiratory infections. Normally we have a fluid that drains out our ears but it can become trapped as the result of any swellings. Germs thrive in this liquid, and as a result there is an ear infection. Infants in particular are vulnerable to infections, mainly due to the fact their Eustachian tubes aren’t fully developed yet; they are less angled and shorter, which makes draining them difficult.
Ways to Help Prevent Ear Infections
Although ear infections may not be completely avoidable, knowing more and applying some of the habits listed below can help reduce frequent ear infections in children:
- Bottle feed children in the upright position.
- Breastfeed the child for 12 months or longer. Breastfed children tend to have fewer ear infections.
- Monitor air quality. Make sure there is no cigarette smoke or other pollutants in the household.
- Keep up to date on your child’s vaccinations.
- Wean your child off of pacifiers after the age of 12 months old.
- Wash your hands and your child’s hands often to prevent the spread of germs and viruses.