About ear infections in babies and children (what parents should know)

As we are still in the cold & flu season, I thought it might be a good time to discuss ear infections. These painful infections are common for some children following an upper respiratory infection. Middle ear infections, medically known as Acute Otitis Media, are most common among children ages 6-36 months. Some children will grow out of frequent infections as their ear anatomy changes. What I mean by this is the canal that connects the throat to the inside of the ear, referred to as the Eustachian tube, in an infant is shorter, narrower, and on a horizontal plane compared to an adult. This makes it more challenging for fluids to drain from the ear and easier for viruses or bacteria to stick around. As your child grows the angle changes; however, some children may be candidates for ear tube placement by an ear/nose/throat specialist. These tympanostomy tubes are placed in the ear drum (tympanic membrane) to release pressure on the ear drum and to drain the fluid from the middle ear. Children who experience repeat infections may be at a higher risk for hearing difficulties and potentially speech delays. Do not be too worried as this is not a common outcome for ear infections. It is always a good idea to have a conversation with your healthcare provider if you are concerned. 

For simple dietary changes and nutritional suggestions that may help treat and prevent ear infections from occurring, see this post. Ear infections are not contagious but the cold or flu they have may be, so consider preventative strategies for your family members before they show signs and symptoms. If your child shows signs of an ear infection, please consult a Naturopathic physician or a healthcare provider. 

For tips to improve overall health and wellbeing, nutrition, recipes and meal plans, visit Integrative Health.