Ear infections are no laughing matter. Painful and sometimes messy, ear infections are most common in children. They’re so common, in fact, that an estimated 50% of children experience an ear infection by their second birthday. The number bloats to 80% by the time children turn 3.
At Florida Ear, Nose, Throat & Facial Plastic Surgery Center, Wade Han, MD, FACS, and Elvira Livigni-De Armas, AUD, lead our team of compassionate care professionals. Our medical team has locations in Orlando and Kissimmee, Florida, making treatment for any ear, nose, and throat issue easier to reach. Both Dr. Han and Dr. Livigni-De Armas work together to treat your ear infection and protect your hearing. If your baby keeps getting ear infections, here’s some information and advice from our team.
As mentioned, ear infections are very common in children—so much so, it’s unusual for a child to never have one. Ear infections are more likely to happen in conjunction with or following an upper respiratory infection—babies are also vulnerable to colds and flus as their tiny immune systems continue to develop.
Part of the reason that babies and toddlers are so prone to ear infections is due to the still-developing structure of the ear. Just inside of your ear lies your eardrum, which receives sound to transmit to the brain. Behind your eardrum, the Eustachian tube connects the ear to the nose, providing ventilation to keep the area around the eardrum dry.
For this sensitive area, the middle ear, to remain dry and healthy, the Eustachian tube has to be strong enough to stay open. The Eustachian tube can easily clog or dampen when babies get sick, creating a hospitable environment for bacteria that cause ear infections. With an immature Eustachian tube, ear infections can not only occur but can return.
Chronic ear infections in children do not generally indicate any more serious underlying conditions, but having one ear infection makes a child more susceptible to having another one. Whether this is your baby’s first ear infection or one of multiple, it’s important to contact your provider at Florida Ear Nose Throat & Facial Plastic Surgery Center.
Symptoms of an ear infection in babies typically include fussiness and tugging at the afflicted ear. It’s extremely rare for an ear infection to occur in both ears. Ear infections can impede your child’s ability to eat or learn, and come with a low-grade fever, drainage, and even hearing loss.
Bringing your baby in for an appointment at the time they start showing symptoms can reduce your baby’s suffering. Once we have a chance to see you, we can run any necessary tests and prescribe effective therapies to help your baby feel healthy again.
Prevention is an ideal way of keeping your baby from suffering from ear infections. Personal hygiene plays a huge role in keeping ear infections at bay, and preventive measures start with frequent hand-washing, especially during cold and flu season. Avoiding group care during this time is also an ideal preventive measure, though isn’t always an option for busy parents.
Treating your child’s allergies can strengthen their ability to fight off ear infections, and so can making sure that your child is up-to-date on all of their vaccinations. Cold and flu vaccines are particularly important for preventing ear infections, so be sure to ask your pediatrician for more information.
Keeping your baby away from cigarette smoke and other environmental toxins also dramatically reduces the likelihood that your baby will continue to experience ear infections. Another important preventive measure is breastfeeding through the first year, when possible.
We’re so sorry to hear that your baby is sick, but we’re here to help you and your child navigate the difficulties of ear infections that just won’t quit. What’s most important is getting treatment for your baby as soon as possible. Let us help you protect your baby’s hearing. Call either of our Florida offices for a consultation or book an appointment with us online.