It’s extremely common for young children to get middle ear infections (otitis media) because their immune systems are less developed and their Eustachian tubes—which drain fluid from the middle ear—are more horizontal than adults. In fact, according to a 2017 study, “Acute otitis media affects over 80% of children before their third birthday and 30 to 45% of these children have suffered two or more episodes.”
We review how to reduce your child’s risk of an ear infection below.
Get Them Vaccinated
Boston Medical Center reports that vaccinations can help prevent the conditions that lead to ear infections. This is why it’s important to get your child all recommended vaccines on the schedule their pediatrician recommends.
If you are able, breastfeeding is another great way to help prevent ear infections in babies. This is because breast milk contains antibodies that can protect your baby against illness. We recommend breastfeeding your baby until they are at least six months old.
Bottle Feed at an Upright Angle
If breastfeeding doesn’t work for you and your baby, another way you can help prevent ear infections is to bottle feed at an upright angle, so that their head is higher than their stomach. This can help prevent fluids, including the formula, from flowing into the middle ear. Note: Never use a pillow to prop up the bottle or allow your baby to take their bottle to bed.
Stop Pacifier Use Between Six and 12 Months
Pacifier use has been associated with an increased risk of ear infections because the sucking motion can inhibit proper Eustachian tube function. While it’s useful to soothe your young baby, we recommend stopping pacifier use between six and 12 months.
Wash Their Hands Often
To stop the spread of germs that can lead to ear infections, wash your hands and your child’s hands frequently, especially after using the bathroom, before preparing or eating food, after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose and after playing at the playground in Stringtown Park.
Exposure to tobacco smoke, even secondhand, raises the risk of ear infections, which is why if you smoke, you should quit. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, call ENT & Allergy Specialists today.