Ear infection, also known as otitis media, is an infection of the middle ear, the space located behind the eardrum that contains the tiny vibrating bones of the ear. Children are more likely than adults to get ear infections. Ear infections are often painful due to inflammation and buildup of fluids in the middle ear.
- Age: Children between the ages of 6 months to 2 years are more susceptible due to the size and shape of their eustachian tubes and their still-developing immune systems.
- Group child care: Children cared for in group settings are more likely to get colds and ear infections than are children who stay home because they’re exposed to more infections.
- Bottle-feeding: Babies who drink from a bottle, especially while lying down, may have more ear infections than do babies who breast-feed.
- Seasonal factors: Ear infections are most common during the fall and winter when colds and flu are prevalent.
1. Avoid secondhand smoke: Children exposed to tobacco smoke have a higher risk of ear infections.
2. Breast-feed: Breast-feeding your baby for the first six months can help prevent ear infections.
3. Keep vaccinations up to date: Certain vaccinations can help prevent ear infections.
4. Avoid using pacifiers: Use of pacifiers can cause ear infections in infants and young children.
Myths, Misconceptions, and Facts
Myth: All ear pain is due to an ear infection.
Fact: Not all ear pain is an ear infection. It can be caused by various conditions like teething in infants, throat infections, or excessive ear wax.
Myth: Antibiotics are the only treatment for ear infections.
Fact: While antibiotics can be effective, many ear infections are viral and resolve on their own.
Myth: Only children get ear infections.
Fact: While ear infections are more common in children, adults can also get them.
Myth: You can’t swim if you have an ear infection.
Fact: Unless there is a perforation or a tube in the ear, swimming should not worsen the infection.