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Ask The Expert

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The prevalence of ear infections in children

It is a fact that children are more prone to ear infections than adults. This higher prevalence of ear infections in children is typically due to a few factors.

Firstly, the Eustachian tubes are much smaller and higher leveled in children as compared to adults. Now, when these tubes are swollen or are blocked with mucus due to a cold, flu or one of the respiratory problems children often get, the mucus in the ear and Eustachian tube might not be able to drain out as well, as an adult's would drain. This trapped mucus becomes a place for pathogens such as bacteria to flourish resulting in ear infections and pain.

Secondly, children have weaker immune systems as compared to adults and this makes it difficult for them to resist the ill effects of any infection. If some of the bacteria that pass through the mouth or nose get trapped inside the adenoids, chronic infections may develop and are then easily spread to the ear, specifically the middle ear via the Eustachian tubes.

Prevalence Statistics

Ear infections are so prevalent that about 50% of children in the UK are reported to have been infected with Otitis Media (middle ear infection) within the first year of their birth. And, this percentage shockingly rises to as much as 90% for children aged up to 6. Statistics suggest that children who got infected during the first six months of their birth were more prone to persistent infections than the ones who were lucky not to have faced any infection during their first year of life.

Childhood ear infections are now being increasingly linked to the exacerbation of atopic diseases such as asthma. Studies have shown that the prevalence of ear infections is almost proportional to the number of asthma cases.

A positive outlook related to ear infections is that their incidence decreases gradually with time. By the time, a child is 8 years old their ears and Eustachian tubes have fully grown, and hence there would be no problems related to the anatomy. Parents need to be aware of the symptoms and make sure the problem is detected and diagnosed at the initial stages, so that treatment is started early.

A few measures to prevent ear infections in children

The worst part about ear infections is that there is no complete prevention of this problem, and all parents can do is to teach themselves the signs and symptoms, and proper treatment methods.

Firstly, viruses spread fast and easily. Remembering that children have weaker immune systems and can catch viruses more easily, it is important to wash your hands before playing with or feeding baby. Here too, older children should be taught to cover their mouths while coughing or sneezing and wash their hands regularly - most importantly after using the toilet and always before meals.

Secondly, infants should not sleep with bottles in their mouths. This process can cause tooth cavities and can also lead to irritation in the throat. This irritation may lead to swelling in the throat, which then blocks the Eustachian tube resulting in ear problems.

Thirdly, constantly poking and digging around in your child’s ear is not going to prevent the infection, but may cause injuries. Leave the ears of your kids alone.

Lastly, feed your children with the essential nutrients such as Zinc and Vitamin C to boost their immune systems so that infections may be resisted.

  Natural treatment for Earaches in Children

EarAche Twinkles - safe for babies, toddlers and young children to take

  • Treats - Ear infection cause bacteria or a viral infection, pain, fever and chills

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