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Have a Healthy Year: Minimize Ear Infections

As a mother of three children, CHoR pediatric ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist Dr. Kelley Dodson knows firsthand how difficult it can be when a child isn't feeling well. Ear infections are one of the most worrisome illnesses for parents and children to endure. To help prevent ear infections and ensure they are treated as soon as possible, Dr. Dodson shares the ?top five? risk factors and symptoms to look for related to childhood ear infections:

Risk Factors

  1. Children are more likely to develop an ear infection after battling a cold.
  2. Allergies can cause inflammation in airways, which may contribute to ear infections.
  3. Enlarged adenoids can pose an ear infection risk for children. Adenoids (tissue in the back of the nasal cavity) filter out bacteria and viruses entering through the nose. Since adenoids trap germs, the tissue sometimes swells temporarily as it tries to fight off an infection and this swelling may contribute to ear infections.
  4. Enrollment in child care may increase ear infections in children. Although ear infections are not contagious, upper respiratory infections (colds) that often come before them are more frequent among children with frequent exposure to other children.
  5. Babies are born with immature immune systems. As a result, babies and younger children tend to have a higher number of infections, including ear infections.

Symptoms

  • Pain: Older children may tell you their ear hurts while toddlers or babies may show signs of irritability or fussiness. Toddlers and babies may also pull on their ears more often or express discomfort during feeding since swallowing may cause more pain.
  • Fever: Children with ear infections may have fevers ranging from 100?F to a high 104?F.
  • Ear drainage: You may see yellow or white fluid similar to pus draining from your child's ear. Be sure to consult your child's doctor if this occurs.
  • Poor sleep: Children with ear infections may wake up more frequently during the night due to pain, resulting in less sleep (for the child and the parent!).
  • Hearing loss: An ear infection causes fluid behind the eardrum to get in the way of sound transmission which may cause a child to have trouble hearing for several weeks.

Prevention Tip

Frequent hand washing and avoiding cigarette smoke exposure help prevent ear infections.

Treatment

If you believe your child may have an ear infection, consult your child's doctor. Children diagnosed with ear infections may be prescribed certain antibiotics or ear drops as treatment, depending on the infection.

 

View this article and more in the 2014 Tid*Bits Calendar.

 


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