Ear infections occur in the middle ear, which is an air-filled space behind the eardrum. This area holds tiny vibrating bones that pick up sound waves so we can hear. Common causes of ear infections are colds, the flu, and allergies. These create congestion and swelling in the nasal passages and throat; when the fluid builds up and fails to drain properly, an ear infection is likely to occur.
Ear infections are sadly common in children. Adults can get them too, but kids are more likely to get them due to having weaker immune systems than adults. Their bodies simply aren’t ready yet when it comes to fighting off common viruses and bacteria. These infections commonly occur in autumn and winter, when upper respiratory infections are on the rise. While all ear infections cannot be stopped, there are ways to help decrease the chances of them occurring. These include:
- Babies that nurse for 12 months or longer are less likely to have an ear infection. Bottles and pacifiers can actually increase the risk of an infection occurring. If you have to use a bottle to feed, make sure your child is sitting upright and not lying down. If your baby is older than 12 months and still using a pacifier, wean them off as soon as possible.
- Providing fresh air for your children to breathe. Do not, under any circumstances, expose your baby to cigarette smoke. This is bad for their overall health and can cause an ear infection if exposed for too long.
- Keeping your child up-to-date on immunizations. Your child’s shots are important to maintaining, as they will help keep their immune system running properly.
- Making sure their hands stay clean. This can seem like an impossible task when it comes to children, as they play outside often and are exposed to germs of inside and outside playground equipment and toys. Wash their hands often throughout the day with soap and water, and try to keep dirty objects away from their mouth.