How Can I Prevent an Ear Infection?

How Can I Prevent an Ear Infection?

Ear infections can be a troublesome condition especially when recurrent ear infections occur.

Children are at a high risk of developing repeated ear infections. Children have more narrow and horizontal Eustachian tubes, and are more likely to get blocked easily, making them vulnerable to infections. There are numerous ways that you can prevent developing an ear infection in the future. 

  • Keep your ears clean – Clean your ears regularly using the tip of a wet towel to prevent infections. Avoid using ear buds as these can damage your ears and make things worse.
  • Do not stop your antibiotic treatment as soon as symptoms resolve - If you have an acute ear infection, make sure that you complete the full course of treatment that your doctor prescribed. If you fail to do so, it will be hard to treat the infection if it reoccurs due to the development of antibiotic resistance.
  • Stay alert with the yearly flu vaccinations - Get vaccinations for influenza, pneumonia and meningitis. The immunity provided by these vaccines will also protect you from ear infections.
  • Breast feeding the baby is enough to protect your baby from infections - Breast feed your baby exclusively for the first 6 months, meaning you should only give breast milk and nothing else to the baby, not even water. Continue to breast feed up to at least the first year. Breast milk is very important for a baby as it will provide antibodies to protect the baby from infections.
  • Be hygienic – Practice good hygiene such as washing your hands with soap and water after using the restroom, before meals and after handling pets. If you are not hygienic, germs on your hand can easily enter your ear when you touch your face or ears.
  • Avoid both active and passive smoking – Do not leave your child in an environment where passive smoking could occur. Smoke irritates the hair cells lining the ear and makes them more likely to develop ear infections, therefore make sure that none of your family members smoke at home. Stay away from smoking environments.
  • Do not let the baby bottle feed while lying on their back – Always hold your baby in an upright position while bottle feeding to prevent the milk collecting within the Eustachian tube. If liquid collects within the Eustachian tube, it can get infected leading to an ear infection.
  • Keep your kids away from people with the flu or a cold – The cold or flu can easily spread to your baby and sometimes can lead to an ear infection.
  • Minimize the use of pacifiers as much as possible – A medical study has found that babies who do not use pacifiers are less likely to develop ear infections. They had about one-third fewer middle ear infections than babies who used pacifiers.
  • Teach your child to cough or sneeze into a handkerchief or elbow – This will help to prevent the spread of colds and flus to others through airborne means.
  • Encourage children to drink plenty of water – Drinking a lot of water helps flush out germs and toxins from your body, helping you avoid infection.

Key Takeaways

  • Children are at a high risk of developing repeated ear infections
  • The narrow and horizontal Eustachian tubes in children can get blocked easily making them vulnerable to infections
  • Breast feeding the baby is enough to protect your baby from infections during the first year of life