Ear infections are a sure-fire way to make your child really miserable. Unfortunately, they are pretty commonplace among kids of any age. The good news is that there are things you can do to prevent them.
Some of these things can be accomplished at an early age by educating your child about personal hygiene, whereas you can also minimize the risk of certain infections by immunizing your child against specific diseases. We have prepared this quick guide to the symptoms and risk factors of ear infections in kids, as well as some tips to prevent them.
Ear infections occur when bacteria or viruses get into the ear canal or eustachian tube. They often occur after a bout of cold or flu, but they can also happen if water gets behind the eardrum. Typical symptoms include:
- Fussy behavior
- Trouble sleeping
- Tugging or pulling at ears
- Problems with hearing
Younger kids are more at risk because their eustachian tubes haven’t adequately developed, making it easier for them to get blocked. Their developing immune system also makes them more vulnerable to getting colds and the flu. Other risk factors include:
- Exposure to cigarette smoke
- Attending childcare or kindergarten (because kids just love to share their germs)
Teach Your Kids the Importance of Personal Hygiene from a Young Age
Because kiddies love to share germs, it is essential that you introduce them to personal hygiene as soon as possible. Teach them to always wash their hands after sneezing or coughing and to cover their mouths with their elbows whenever they have to cough or sneeze in public.
You can also encourage them not to pick their noses or put their fingers in their ears. It is vital to make this as fun as possible and to practice what you preach.
Keep Up to Date with Immunizations
Ear infections are often caused by bacteria and viruses such as the flu and pneumococcus. Having your child immunized against these two things is highly recommended, as it can help them fight off the bugs if they get exposed to them.
Your pediatrician will provide you with a detailed list of recommended shots, along with the appropriate schedule for when they should be taken. For example, the flu shot should be done every year for kids six months and older. For older kids, there is a nasal spray available that makes the annual trip a little less upsetting.
Some parents prefer to bottle-feed their children, but the formula doesn’t contain all the necessary antibodies that children need as their immune systems are developing. Breastfed babies have at least a 50 percent lower risk of getting ear infections, which is a statistic you ought to think long and hard about.
In all cases, you should hold your baby at a 45-degree upright angle while feeding so the milk doesn’t get into the eustachian tube.
Giving your child a healthy diet will help keep bugs at bay. Aim for a balanced diet with lots of different protein sources such as meats, avocados, and nuts. Also, aim to introduce lots of fruits and veggies as soon as possible. Yes, kids can be picky, but if you start them off on the right foot, they will develop much healthier eating habits.
In terms of drinks, you should give them lots of water and try to limit cow’s milk, juice, and soda.