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Can You Prevent an Ear Infection?

Can You Prevent an Ear Infection?

Most people have had an ear infection at some point during their lifetime. However, they may not remember it. That’s because 5 in 6 children develop an ear infection by age 3.

But what if they become a recurring problem? Or, worse yet, you end up with ear infections as an adult?

Dr. Vandana Kumra works with patients of all ages struggling with ear infections at her private ear, nose, and throat practice, ENT New York

You can’t always prevent an ear infection, but did you know you can reduce the risk of it occurring? Dr. Kumra explains how.

What you need to know about ear infections

Did you know that 94% of children have an ear infection by age two? Many of them will have three or more before they reach 3.

There’s a fairly simple reason for this. Most of these infections develop in the eustachian tube, a structure that runs from the middle ear to the upper throat and nose.

Both adults and children have this tube. However, it’s much shorter, narrower, and more horizontal in children, making it more susceptible to drainage issues and blockages. 

When blockages occur, bacteria, fungi, and viruses can grow unchecked, leading to an infection in the middle ear.

Additional risk factors that increase a child’s risk of ear infection include:

Factors that can increase an adult’s chances of ear infections include spending a lot of time in water, having a respiratory tract infection, having a weakened immune system, or having a chronic skin condition.

The aging process can also impact the ears, leaving older adults more vulnerable to certain problems, including infection.

Preventing ear infections

The good news is that ear infections usually don’t cause serious complications. 

However, untreated or recurring infections can cause hearing impairments, speech or developmental delays, and eardrum tears. In some cases, infections can even spread to nearby tissue.

As a result, it’s important to see a doctor for ear pain or discharge and symptoms that last longer than one day. 

Dr. Kumra can perform an exam and outline a treatment strategy to avoid long-term issues.

On top of treating ear infections promptly, you can also take steps to reduce a child’s chances of the condition — especially when they’re most vulnerable between six months and one year.

To prevent ear infections in children, Dr. Kumra recommends:

Some vaccinations, like the seasonal flu shot and pneumococcal vaccine, can also help reduce a child’s chances of ear infections.

If these methods fail to clear up an ear infection, Dr. Kumra might recommend special devices — like ear wicks — or surgery to address issues leading to chronic problems.

Are you or your child struggling with ear infections? Schedule a consultation with Vandana Kumra, MD, in New York City to find solutions today.

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