Preventing Ear Infections
If you’ve ever had an ear infection or have a child whose suffered with ear infections, you probably know that it can be pretty painful. Nurse Rose Melendez, RN, tells us how to recognize and prevent ear infections.
What causes ear infections?
Ear infections are generally caused by bacteria build-up behind the eardrum. The condition usually occurs when fluid collects behind the eardrum, or it can develop after a virus runs its course but leaves bacteria trapped in the middle ear.
Why do younger children seem to get more infections?
You might notice that ear infections are more common in children. This is because:
- The tubes connecting the throat to the middle ear is smaller and more direct in children, making it easier for fluid to build up
- Children have less developed immune systems
How can you tell if your little one has an ear infection?
Since ear infections are common in young children who cannot speak or have limited speech, lookout for these signs.
- Pulling or tugging at ears
- Fluid draining from the ears
- Issues hearing and responding to quiet sounds
- Crying even after being soothed
What can parents do to help prevent ear infections?
Reduce your child’s risk of getting an ear infection with these tips.
- Encourage frequent hand-washing
- Disinfect common household surfaces like doorknobs or cell phones
- If possible, avoid other sick children if you or your child are sick
- Get your flu shot
- Avoid exposure to secondhand smoke
- Don’t put your baby to sleep with a bottle
- Do not use cotton swabs in the ear
Some ear infections will clear up on their own, but if your child continues to have pain, it is important to see a doctor. Untreated ear infections can cause hearing loss.
Rose Melendez, RN
Head of Emergency Department
Rose Melendez, RN is the head of the Emergency Department and Nursing Administration at Adventist HealthCare Washington Adventist Hospital. Tune into WGTS 91.9 FM every Wednesday at 7:40 a.m. to listen to Nurse Rose live on the radio.