Ear infections are very common, especially among children. Research has shown that up to 80% of children will experience at least one ear infection by the time they are three years old.
While ear infections often clear up on their own and are usually not serious, they can be painful and frustrating, especially if you or your child experiences frequent or reoccurring infections.
The good news is there are ways to help minimize the risk of ear infections.
Who Is at Risk for an Ear Infection?
Anyone can develop an ear infection, but there are some factors that put a person more at risk. These include:
- Age. Children are more likely to experience ear infections than adults.
- Experiencing a recent upper respiratory tract infection
- Family history of ear infections
- Some chronic illnesses, like asthma
- Exposure to cigarette smoke
Ear Infection Symptoms
Ear pain and fever are common symptoms of ear infections, as well as fluid draining from the ear. Some people also experience muffled hearing or even temporary hearing loss.
Young children may appear especially irritable and/or cry more than usual. They also may have trouble sleeping as well as have a diminished appetite.
Preventing Ear Infections
While there is no way to completely eliminate the possibility of developing an ear infection, there are ways you can reduce the risk for yourself and your child.
- Don’t smoke and avoid second-hand smoke.
- Manage allergies. Mucus and inflammation caused by allergies can block the Eustachian tubes and lead to infection.
- Minimize your chances of catching a cold by washing your hands regularly.
- Dry your ears after showering or going for a swim at Fernwood Pool.
- If you bottle-feed your child, make sure to hold them at an upright angle when feeding with their head higher than their stomach. Feeding in a horizontal position can cause fluid to flow back into the Eustachian tubes.
- Make sure you and your child are up to date on your vaccinations. Vaccines against the flu, pneumonia and other viral infections have been shown to also reduce the chances of developing ear infections.
If you are concerned about you or your child experiencing frequent ear infections, call Spartanburg | Greer ENT & Allergy today to speak with a specialist or schedule an appointment.