Ear Infections

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Question

Why are ear infections more common for children?

Answer

As you may know, ear infections are very common in children. 80% of all children will get an ear infection before they are seven years old. There are several reasons why ear infections are more common in children than adults.

First, children are more likely to get infections such as the cold that can lead to ear infections. As children age, their immune systems develop and they are better able to fight these infections. There are also differences between the anatomy of the ear of children and that of adults. A tube called the eustachian tube allows air to move back and forth between the nose and ear. In children this tube is short and narrow. Because of this, fluid can easily block this tube leading to swelling, pain and infection. It is important to have a doctor treat this infection to avoid rupture of the ear drum and possible hearing loss.

Ear infections are more common in boys than in girls. It is not clear why this is the case, but it is likely due to the activity level of the average boy under the age of seven. At this age, boys are typically more active than girls and play in places that put them at increased risk of infection. Close contact with playmates and outdoor dust and dirt can lead to an infection with bacteria or viruses that commonly cause ear infections. On average, girls seem to be active in indoor environments that are more sterile. In addition to being male, other risk factors to getting an ear infection include being in group day care setting, being exposed to tobacco smoke, and having been bottle fed rather than breast fed.
Cold and Flu - Ear Nose and Throat Question: How can I treat nasal congestion without medication? There are ways that you can treat nasal congestion without medication. Medicines are not the only way to relieve a stuffy or runny nose. Often, gentler solutions are better. Try these steps to thin the mucus, which can help you breathe easier and get your nasal secretions back to normal:

Treating nasal congestion for infants and babies

For a baby too young to blow his or her nose, an infant nasal aspirator (bulb) can help remove the mucus. If the mucus is thick and sticky, loosen it by putting 2 or 3 saline nose drops into each nostril. Don't insert cotton swabs into a child's nostrils. Instead, catch the discharge outside the nostril on a tissue or swab, roll it around, and pull the discharge out of the nose.

Congestion is often worse when you are lying down. Keep upright, or at least keep the head elevated. This is especially helpful for young children.

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