Ear infections are one of the most common problems for children in the preschool years. Some children will get repeated infections that never seem to clear up completely.
However, keeping the ears free of infection and fluid is very important at this age when so much of a child’s learning and social development depends on good hearing.
Fortunately, there are many things a parent can do to help protect a young child’s ears from infections.
First and foremost is a clean environment. Pollution is a big factor in causing the congestion that will eventually lead to plugged ears, fluid accumulation, and infection.
Cigarette smoking is a major cause of irritation to the airways. Children will get a runny nose, congestion of the nasal passages, and a cough from cigarette smoke. These conditions predispose to infections and also prevent the child from resolving infections as quickly and easily.
Heating with wood or kerosene is another source of pollution which contributes to congestion and infection. Heating with oil, gas, or electricity is far cleaner.
For young children, being put to bed with a bottle is a problem. The milk or juice will pool around the Eustachian tube and promote infections. Breast-feeding, on the other hand, has been shown to reduce the risk of ear infections.
The other big cause of ear infections is through exposure to viruses from other children, especially in day care centers. The larger the group of children, the greater the number of viruses that are spread around. Try to keep the day care groups small.