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Middle ear infection (otitis media)
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Middle ear infection - otitis media

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CHILDREN'S HEALTH

Ear/Nose/Throat

  • Strep throat

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  • Middle ear infections - also known as otitis media - are one of the most common illnesses affecting infants and young children. Most children have at least one ear infection by age 3. By age 7, almost all children have had an ear infection.

    Ear infections usually start with a cold, which can cause fluid to build up behind a child's eardrum. The fluid itself isn't necessarily a problem. But it's an ideal breeding ground for bacteria or viruses that cause infection.

    An acutely infected ear is very painful. But interpreting pain in a child who may be too young to communicate verbally can be a challenge. Signs other than pain may be more apparent. A child with an ear infection may also have a fever and be irritable or listless. Difficulty sleeping is common.

    Prevention

    You can't protect your child completely from ear infections. But you can reduce your child's risk by taking the following steps:

    • Choose a small child-care setting, if possible. Children in child care are more likely to have ear infections than children who are cared for at home. And the more young children there are in a child-care setting, the greater are the chances that your child will catch a cold that leads to an infection. To reduce your child's chances of exposure, select a child-care center that has few children of similar age.

    • Protect your child from secondhand smoke. Children who breathe secondhand smoke are far more likely to develop ear infections. If they do get sick, they will also take longer to recover. The best way to keep your child safe is to make sure that no one smokes in your home and car. Preferably, no one should smoke in your child's presence at all, such as in restaurants or at other gatherings. Also, in most states, child-care centers are supposed to be smoke-free. Check to make sure yours meets this requirement.

    • Breast-feed your baby for at least 4 months. Infants who are bottle-fed are more likely to develop ear infections than are babies who are breast-fed. Breast-feeding helps by passing along immunity that protects against middle ear infections. It also helps keep your baby's eustachian tubes from becoming blocked. If you do bottle-feed, hold your baby in an upright position. Avoid having your child feed from a bottle while lying in bed.

    • Ask your doctor about the pneumococcal 7-valent conjugate vaccine (Prevnar). This vaccine prevents the seven most common subtypes of the pneumococcal bacterium found among children. It's given as a series of four shots at 2, 4, 6 and 15 months of age. Although Prevnar is intended to prevent serious, life-threatening infections such as pneumonia and meningitis and has been shown to slightly reduce the incidence of some ear infections, it won't prevent all ear infections.

    Middle ear infection > 1 > 2 > 3 > 4

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    Related Site:

  • Strep throat

  • Tonsillitis

  • Middle ear infection

  • Croup

  • Airplane ear

  • Epiglottitis Colic

  • Diaper rash

  • Jaundice in newborns

  • Mumps

  • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

  • Conjunctivitis

  • Cerebral palsy

  • Middle ear infection

  • Febrile seizure

  • Roseola

  • Bronchiolitis

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    Last Modified : 10/01/06 04:34 AM