It is extremely common for children to be prone to ear infections. If your child frequently has problems with their ears, then they typically will get middle ear infections. The infections begin when bacteria move into the fluid that sits behind the ear drum. The fluid will drain through the eustachian tube that attaches to the middle ear. However, the tube can swell closed when a child becomes ill with a cold or virus. Also, the eustachian tube sits vertically in the ear and this can lead to fluid drainage issues and the formation of an infection. As your child grows, the tube will angle downward a small amount and most of your child's ear infections will stop. In the meantime, you should do your best to try to prevent as many infections as possible. The following tips can help you.
Get The Flu Shot
If your child does not currently receive a flu vaccine, then now is the time to start taking your child to the pediatrician to receive one. Since the flu can cause ear infections, it is best to prevent flus as much as possible. The flu vaccine has been shown to reduce the risk of contracting the flu by as much as 50% to 60%. This is the case as long as the flu in the vaccine matches well with the flu virus that circulates during the flu season. There are three types of flu viruses. They are named Influenza A, B, and C. Influenza A and B are the most common, and the flu vaccine will contain one of these two strains. The CDC will choose the strain based on scientific research and the likelihood that influenza A or B will infect individuals during the flu season.
Since the flu vaccine does not offer 100% prevention from the flu, you will need to make sure that you take other measures to prevent your son or daughter from contracting the virus. Make sure that your child washes their hands with soap and water before they eat or drink. Also, washing is best after visiting a public space like a park, grocery store, school, or other area where sick individuals may gather. If soap is not available, then an alcohol based hand sanitizer should be used instead.
Keep Away From Smoke
If you, your spouse, or another family member smokes, then it is best to keep your child away from smoke as much as possible. Not only can secondhand smoke lead to respiratory ailments and an increased risk of contracting a virus, but it can also substantially increase the risk of ear infections. In fact, your child will be two times as likely to form an ear infection if they live in a household with someone who smokes. The toxins in the smoke will force the immune system to work overtime to eliminate the chemicals, and this can weaken the immune system overall. Your child will then be more likely to catch a cold or a flu virus that can cause an ear infection. Also, the smoke can cause tar and other debris to build up around the sinus cavities, nasal passages, and throat. This can disrupt the ability of the eustachian tubes to drain fluid properly.
If you have not already, make sure to institute a no smoking policy inside your home. Also, you should do this for the exterior of your house as well. Under certain conditions, your child may breathe in the same levels of toxic smoke outside as they would if a smoker were sitting next to them inside. Specifically, this occurs if the wind blows the smoke directly in your child's face. To help avoid situations where this can happen, make sure that smoking is not permitted within about 20 feet of your home. Consider setting up a smoking area about 20 feet or more from your house to completely reduce your child's exposure to cigarette smoke.
Contact your pediatric physician for more ideas on preventing ear infections.