Ear Infections in Babies Part 3

Ear Infections in Babies Part 3Ear infections are an unfortunate part of the territory with young ears. Sometimes ear infections in babies are unavoidable and some babies are more prone to them than others. However, there are some ways to help prevent ear infections in babies.

Breastfeeding: Breastfed babies have fewer incidences of ear infections. According to the CDC, breastfeeding reduces the risk of ear infections in babies by up to 70%. Breastfeeding provides babies with essential antibodies that help boost their immature immune systems to prevent illness. Also, the more frequent act of sucking may assist in clearing pressure and fluid buildup in the ear.

Immunizations: It may seem like the recommended vaccines for your baby in the first few years of life are endless, but they are all for good cause. Several of them, including the Hib vaccine, pneumococcal vaccine and the flu shot, all aim to prevent illnesses that can lead to ear infections. Stay current on your baby’s immunizations to help prevent ear infections.

No Smoking: Exposure to tobacco smoke significantly increases your baby’s risk of sickness including ear infections. If someone smokes in your house, your baby is 37-62% more likely to have ear infections and many children in smoking homes wind up needing middle ear surgeries. Even being around smoke casually can affect your baby.

Eliminate the Pacifier: Studies link prolonged use of pacifiers (after 6 months of age) to more frequent ear infections. If your baby needs a pacifier for comfort, limit it to sleep times only.

Eat Healthy: Like breastfeeding, a nutritious diet of immune-boosting fruits, vegetables and whole grains can help prevent ear infections in babies. Go for antioxidant-rich foods and skip the excess fats, sugar and salt. Babies have no need for them anyways.

Drink Upright: When your baby drinks breast milk or water from a bottle or sippy cup, ensure she is sitting upright. This ensures all fluids go down the right channels and fluids don’t build up in the middle ear.

Beware of Allergens: Because your baby is so new to the world, you may not know what allergens will affect her. Additionally, she may be more sensitive to certain allergens because she is so young. Avoid sleeping with stuffed animals that may carry germs and wash your carpets and pets often.

Ear infections in babies are only an issue for the first two or three years. After that point the Eustachian tubes elongate and curve to prevent fluid from remaining in the ear and becoming infected.

We hope you’ve learned the causes, symptoms, treatments, risks and prevention methods for ear infections in babies from our series. Wishing your baby much health!

Sources: WebMD, BabyCenter and Parenting

Ear Infections in Babies Part 1

Ear Infections in Babies Part 1Ear infections in babies are quite common. In fact, approximately 50% of babies have had an ear infection by their first birthday. This week we’re talking about the causes, symptoms, treatments, risks and prevention methods for ear infections in babies.

Causes of Ear Infections in Babies

Ear infections occur when fluid builds up behind the ear drum. This can happen because the normal channel for fluid to pass through the middle ear, the Eustachian tube which connects to the back of the throat, may be blocked thereby trapping fluid. Germs including bacteria and viruses are often introduced through the throat into the Eustachian tubes. Babies have short, wide and flat Eustachian tubes, which causes fluid to sit in the warm, dark, damp areas of the middle ear where bacterial or viral infections can grow.

Often an ear infection follows an upper respiratory issue such as a common cold, sinus infection or allergy flare-up. The excessive fluids you notice from a runny nose, spitting up mucus or watery eyes are also dripping into your baby’s ears. The fluid builds up behind the eardrum, causing an infection. As the inflammation increases, it can be quite painful to your baby.

Symptoms of Ear Infections in Babies

Because ear infections in babies are so common, it’s smart for parents to be on the lookout for signs that your baby may have one, especially after a cold, sinus infection or during allergy seasons. You may notice that your baby’s runny nose turns from clear to yellow or green. That’s a sign of infection.

In addition to a drippy nose, your baby may have eye drainage. When the two are combined, ear infection is the likely diagnosis. Some babies even get a yellowy drainage from their ears that may be accompanied by a bad smell, although these symptoms are less common.

Increased crankiness and waking frequently at night are symptoms of an ear infection. Ear infections can be painful and your baby is not able to explain or understand her plight. Lying down may exacerbate the pain because it puts extra pressure on the eardrum and doesn’t allow fluids to drain. If you notice your baby has one more painful side, try to lie her down with that ear up.

Also, your baby may or may not have a fever with an ear infection. She’s more likely to have a higher fever with whatever illness causes the ear infection than with the ear infection itself. Even if she does have an elevated temperature, it’s her body’s way of trying to fight the infection so that’s a positive sign that her immune system is activating properly.

Many parents notice babies tug on their ears when they have an ear infection. This can be a sign of an ear infection as your baby is trying to get to the bottom of the source of pain. Ear tugging may also be a sign of teething or just a fun activity that your baby enjoys.

We’ll be back tomorrow with more important information on ear infections in babies.

Sources: WebMD, BabyCenter and Parenting