Ear infections are a painful ailment that primarily affects children. It causes suffering in many different ways and this is hard for you to see as a parent.
You should understand the symptoms of an ear infection so that you can seek prompt treatment. A few of them include muffled hearing, ear drainage, restlessness, irritability, and constant ear tugging.
While knowing how to spot an ear infection is certainly helpful, it’s much better to stop one before it happens. This means that preventing an ear infection is the best way of keeping your child comfortable.
Let’s go over a few tips for preventing an ear infection to help put your child on the right path.
Who Is at Risk?
You should start by understanding who is at risk.
While adults can develop an ear infection, it’s very rare and much more likely to happen to a child. The primary reason for this is the physical immaturity of a child’s ear.
Adults are finished growing and this means that the eustachian tubes of their ears are the appropriate size. On the other hand, children are still growing and this means that their eustachian tubes are narrower. Ear complications are more prevalent with narrow eustachian tubes.
Another risk factor includes children that attend daycare. This exposes them to several other children and environments that have plenty of germs.
If your child is ever around smoking, then this can also lead to an ear infection. Any type of air pollution can cause ear infections and smoke is one of the most common culprits.
What this means is that children, especially those that attend daycare, are at the greatest risk of having an ear infection.
What Causes an Ear Infection?
Now that you know who is at risk, you should know what causes them to happen.
The biggest cause of an ear infection is a virus. This is why heavy sources of germs are problematic as they increase the likelihood of getting sick.
Ear infections don’t typically happen on their own. Instead, they are usually caused as a result of another illness that a child has. For example, a child may catch a common cold and end up with an ear infection later on.
The congestion experienced during a common sickness can cause the eustachian tubes to swell. This will lead to a fluid blockage, which ultimately leads to an ear infection.
To prevent an ear infection from happening, most of your strategy will involve avoiding any form of illness.
One of the most important tips to take note of is keeping vaccinations up to date.
We mentioned earlier that other illnesses lead to an ear infection. This means that limiting your child’s risk of acquiring any type of sickness helps reduce the prevalence of ear infections.
Vaccinations are necessary because they help your child avoid getting ill. They gradually expose your child to an illness, which helps them build immunity to it.
This happens because your child’s body builds antibodies to fight the virus that they’re being vaccinated for. Once they develop antibodies for an illness, it makes it incredibly difficult to contract.
A great example of this is your yearly flu shot. Getting this shot will help you avoid coming down with the flu because it allows you to develop an immunity to the virus causing it.
There’s an abundance of misconceptions about vaccinations, but they are far more beneficial than problematic. Staying on top of them for your child will help them avoid illnesses that can lead to an ear infection.
You should also teach your child to prioritize practicing good hygiene at all times. The main reason for this is to limit any contact with germs and the impact that they have.
One important part of this is for your child to frequently wash their hands. Wherever they spend their time, whether it’s at school, daycare, or the playground, there is undoubtedly an abundance of germs.
Children love to touch things and this will mean that the surfaces and objects they touch have likely been touched by other children. You don’t know how cleanly other children are or if they are sick.
This poses a hazard to your child if it causes them to get sick. If they wash their hands frequently, then they’re less likely to pick up germs from other children.
Beyond this, you should instruct your child to avoid touching things that might be dirty. If they do, they should never put it in their mouth or touch their face afterward.
If your child has a habit of washing their hands after being in potentially dirty environments, it will limit how often they get sick.
The final important tip is to never have your child around cigarette smoke.
The reason for this is because cigarette smoke is extremely toxic. It’s harmful to people of all ages and causes several health complications for smokers and those around them.
Smoking has a drastic effect on your immune system and makes you more susceptible to illness.
What this means for your child is that there’s a greater likelihood they get sick from a random germ rather than being able to fight it. Anything that weakens your immune system makes an ear infection more likely.
The longer your child spends around cigarette smoke, the greater the impact will be. This is why you should never smoke around them and don’t bring them near people that do smoke.
Ear infections are difficult for children to handle and this can make you feel powerless to help them. While you can treat an ear infection, you should seek to prevent one from happening altogether.
Children are at the greatest risk of coming down with one and this is increased if they spend time at daycare. Ear infections are typically caused by germs and bacteria, which thrive in establishments like childcare facilities.
The best ways to prevent ear infections in your child include keeping updated with vaccinations, teaching good hygiene, and limiting their exposure to smoke.
Not all ear infections are avoidable, but you can limit the frequency that your child experiences them by helping them avoid illness.