Parenting can be quite challenging in the first few years of your child. Of course, this is extra hard if you are a single parent. But nothing is too hard for a dedicated parent who wants the best for their child.
One of the common threats to children is ear infections.
Why Ear Infections Happen
When one or both eustachian tubes, the tubes connecting the middle ear to the back of the throat, get swollen, ear infections occur. The eustachian tubes allow mucus to drain from the middle ear into the throat.
The most common reasons for this swelling are colds, throat infection, acid reflux, or allergies. These conditions cause swelling in the eustachian tubes, consequently blocking the mucus from draining, allowing viruses or bacteria to grow in the mucus, and creating pus that accumulates in the middle ear.
There are three common types of ear infections. Acute otitis media (AOM) is known as the most common type of ear infection. This often occurs with pain in the ear due to the infection, swelling, and the trapped fluid behind the eardrum.
Otitis media with effusion (OME) is another type of ear infection, which happens when the fluid in the ear retains even after the infection is over. This type of infection may not have any symptoms. However, a doctor can detect this fluid. This is why it is important to always consult with your pediatrician.
Chronic otitis media with effusion (COME) is the most severe type of ear infection. This happens when OME persists. COME results in frequent ear infections and, worst could result in hearing loss.
Inner ear infections are something you, parents, should be alarmed about, given that these infections are one of the primary reasons for antibiotic administration and surgery among children more than any other childhood ailment. If these ear infections remain untreated, they can result in hearing, developmental, and mental complications.
Ways to Prevent Ear Infections
Currently, there are numerous ways to reduce the risk of getting ear infections. Since ear infections are more common among children than adults, there is a different set of preventive measures for children.
Flu vaccination. Make sure to get your child vaccinated against the flu every year.
PCV13 vaccination. Aside from the flu vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recommends having children vaccinated by the 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13). This gives your children protection against numerous types of infection-causing bacteria. If your child has started getting vaccinations from PCV7, a previous type of vaccination, consult your physician on transitioning to PCV13.
These vaccinations are ideal for children under age 2 since studies proved that vaccinated children are safer from ear infections than children who aren’t vaccinated. So, make sure to provide this to your kid, especially when your child is in constant contact with people.
Frequent handwashing. Another way to prevent ear infections among kids is to teach them the importance of frequent handwashing. Washing of the hands with soap and water prevents the spread of germs, thus, protecting your child from potentially catching a cold or the flu. Another way to prevent possible ear infections in your kid is to constantly keep an eye on him, to keep him away from exposing his mouth to dirty objects.
Don’t expose your baby to cigarette smoke. Studies reported that your child’s exposure to secondhand smoking increases his risk of ear infection. This is because the air quality in your child’s environment, especially when polluted with cigarette smoke and other kinds of air pollutants, can pose a threat to your child getting an ear infection. For this reason, one way to prevent ear infections among kids is to ensure that the air quality in his environment is fresh and healthy and he is away from possible air pollutants.
Wean your kids off their pacifiers and feeding bottles. Another way to effectively prevent ear infections in your children is not to let them sleep with a pacifier or a feeding bottle still stuck in their mouth. Such cases lead to a higher risk of ear infection among them.
For a better alternative, get children from 1 year old onwards used to breastfeeding, which is also a healthier option. After that, you can opt for natural breastfeeding or use a breast pump. If they are fond of their feeding bottle, do this in an upright, sitting position or slowly cut them out of their fondness for pacifiers and feeding bottles.
Keep your child away from sick children. This means that you must not further expose your child to children who are sick with flu, as this increases your child’s risk of getting an ear infection.
This usually happens when your child is in a daycare, where many kids are sharing a space. So, when one kid has flu, chances are, the rest of the kids will be exposed to the flu virus and may get it.
Therefore, always stay attentive to your child’s environment since many germs and viruses might enter your child’s vulnerable body, causing ear infections and other illnesses.
Your child might demand to play outside but keep them indoors during winter or within the cold months to avoid getting viruses. Instead, entice them with a hot chocolate drink while you lead them to the couch to play or watch TV.
Keep in mind
If your child has a fever, keep a watchful eye for high temperatures and take action if:
- Your child is younger than 3 months and shows a fever of 100.4 F or more
- It’s above 104 F for any child at any time
- Fever lasts more than a day in a toddler younger than 2
- It lasts more than 3 days in kids 2 and older
Immediately consult with a pediatrician to have your child checked for a possible ear infection or any illnesses.