Ear Infections: What You Should Know
Because a child's Eustachian tubes are shorter and smaller, they are more vulnerable to germs that can lead to a painful ear infection. Other factors like being in day care, exposure to cigarette smoke and bottle-feeding can significantly increase your child's likelihood of getting an infection.
In the summer, the frequency of otitis externa, commonly known as swimmer's ear, increases. When a child's ear canal is exposed to too much moisture, it can become irritated and break down, causing an infection. However, this kind of infection doesn't always occur after frequent swimming. Anything that causes a break in the skin of the canal can cause an infection, such as:
- Dry skin
- Scratching the ear canal
- Vigorous ear cleaning
- Inserting foreign objects into the ear
Symptoms of ear infections include ear pain, fever, loss of hearing, discharge from the ear canal and trouble sleeping or lying down.
To prevent ear infections, breastfeed your child for at least six months, reduce his exposure to secondhand smoke, teach and practice frequent hand washing and keep his immunizations up to date. For swimmer's ear prevention, your child should use over-the-counter ear drops after swimming, dry his ears completely, allow water to drain from ears and never put objects into his ears, including cotton-tipped applicators.