Ear Infections: Prevention
If your child has recurrent ear infections, it's time to look closely at how we might prevent some of them. Some of the following factors may apply to your child. If they do, try to change them:
- First: Protect your child from second-hand tobacco smoke, because passive smoking increases the frequency and severity of ear infections. Be sure no one smokes in your home or your day care.
- Second: Reduce your child's exposure to colds during the first year of life. Most ear infections start with a cold. Try to delay the use of day care centers during the first year by using a sitter in your home. If necessary, use a small home-based day care, rather than a large day care setting.
- Third: Breast-feed your baby during the first 6 to 12 months of life. Antibodies in breast milk reduce the rate of ear infections. If you're breast-feeding, continue. If you're not, consider it with your next child.
- Fourth: Avoid bottle propping. If you formula feed, hold your baby at an angle of 45 degrees. Feeding in the horizontal position can cause a backflow of formula and other secretions into the Eustachian tube. Allowing an infant to hold his own bottle also puts milk into the middle ear. This is another reason for weaning your baby from a bottle between 9 and 12 months of age.
- Fifth: If your infant has continuous nasal secretions, consider an allergy as a contributing factor to the ear infections. This becomes especially likely if your child has other allergies such as eczema. A milk protein allergy is the most likely offender.
- Sixth: If your toddler has constant snoring and mouth breathing, consider large adenoids as a contributing factor.
If you have other questions about preventing ear infections, consult your healthcare provider, especially if your child has continuous nasal secretions, snoring, or mouth breathing.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D. FAAP
Last Review: 6/1/2008
Last Revised: 6/1/2000
Copyright 1994-2008 Barton Schmitt, M.D. Parent Advice Messages.