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How to Avoid and Prevent Ear Infections

Jul 12, 2021 How to Avoid and Prevent Ear Infections

Fortunately, there are things you can do to avoid developing this type of problem. Here are some common suggestions on how to prevent ear infections. Putting them to good use will make it easier to feel better in between your annual physical examinations.

Anyone who has had an ear infection will tell you that it’s no fun. This type of infection can cause a great deal of pain and make it difficult to get through the day. It can also make relaxing enough to get a good night’s sleep almost impossible. 


Fortunately, there are things you can do to avoid developing this type of problem. Here are some of the more common suggestions related to understanding how to prevent ear infections. Putting them to good use will make it easier to feel better in between your annual physical examinations.



Recognizing the Signs of an Ear Infection

If you’ve never experienced this type of infection before, you may not be aware of what it feels like. Knowing more about the most common ear infection symptoms can help you recognize that you have an issue in the early stages. As with many types of medical conditions, prompt treatment before things get worse will make a difference. 


The more common signs of ear infection include:


  • Hearing that’s slightly muffled. You have trouble following conversations because of this, or it’s necessary to turn up the volume on the television in order to hear the audio. Far from being a sign that your hearing is going, it’s more likely you have a slight infection.
  • Difficulty with your balance. Feeling a little off even when you’re walking across a level floor could mean there’s something wrong with your ears. It could be due to a low-grade infection.
  • Pressure in one or both ears when lying down for the night. That could mean the ears are impacted and an infection is just beginning to take place.
  • Pulling on an earlobe or tugging at the ear in general. This could be due to some slight discomfort. The time to take care of it is now rather than waiting for more symptoms to arise.


Children Versus Adults When It Comes to Ear Infections

If you’ve heard that children tend to develop ear infections more often than adults, you’ve heard correctly. There are specific reasons why this occurs, most of them having to do with the anatomy of the ear. 


The Eustachian tubes in the ears of children are shorter and smaller than those of adults. This provides more of a chance for some type of blockage to occur and lead to an infection. It’s also important to note that adults have ears that are larger and that the internal shape may alter slightly with age. 


Even so, adults should never assume that they will not get ear infections. This type of health issue can develop at any age, and any time of the year. That’s why it helps to be aware of the signs as well as know how to lower your risk of developing an infection. 



Keep the Ears Clean and Dry

Your first line of defense has to do with personal hygiene. Making sure that your ears are kept clean helps to reduce the amount of residue that collects in the outer ear. Typically, using a clean washcloth and a little soap while you shower is a good way to keep the ears clean. Even if you don’t take a bath or shower every day, it’s a good practice to wash your ears on a daily basis. 


The second part is just as important. Once you wash your ears, make sure the outer ear is thoroughly dry. Your goal is to avoid any buildup of excess moisture. Your body already supplies a healthy amount of moisture in the ear proper; there’s no need to add to it. Thus, drying helps to support what your body is already doing to promote ear health.


Take Medication If You Have Allergies

Allergies that trigger any type of head congestion could increase the odds of developing an infection in one or both ears. If you have reactions to pollen or other types of airborne materials, the best thing you can do is to take an over the counter or a prescription medication to keep the allergy under control. That will make it all the easier to live your life without being in constant discomfort due to the allergy. 


You’ll also be doing something to minimize the risk of an ear infection. The allergic reaction that leads to your watering eyes, stuffy nose, and sensation of not being able to breathe easily also has the potential to cause inflammation in and just behind the ears. Keep that in mind when you’re tempted to skip the allergy medication just this once.



Dealing With Wax Buildup

Many people live their entire lives without experiencing an excess of earwax production. Others are not so fortunate. At certain times of the year, the production seems to go into overdrive, leaving them with wax that needs to be removed. If they don’t do so in a timely manner, the potential for an infection increases. 


Too much wax can trap liquids and other matter in the ear canal. At that point, your only real option is to see a doctor. All the things you know about how to treat an ear infection at home will be of little to no help. 


One of the simplest and safest ways to rid the ears of excess wax is to use a solution of hydrogen peroxide and warm water. Make sure the water is warm but not hot. You don’t want to damage the inside portion of the ear, but you do want the water to be warm enough to help loosen the excess wax. 


Fill a standard needle-less or bulb syringe with the hydrogen peroxide and water, then irrigate the ear by inserting the tip and projecting the fluid into the ear. You may have to irrigate the ear a few times before the wax loosens and runs into the sink. Should you notice that this process is making you a little dizzy, stop at once. That may be a sign that your ears need to be irrigated by a professional at one of our offices.



Stop If You Smoke

It’s no secret that smoking is not good for you. Those who have continued to smoke in any form should consider quitting. Along with the increasing expense and the lingering scent of stale cigar and cigarette smoke, there are also short-term health risks to consider. One of them happens to do with the propensity for ear infections. 


There are two primary reasons why smoking impacts the potential for this type of infection. One has to do with the weakening of your immune system. Since the body’s immunity is not as strong as it could be, it’s that much easier for health issues to develop. There’s also the impact of tobacco smoke on the tissues in the nose and throat. Along with that damage, it could be damaging the tissue leading up to the other side of the eardrum. 


If you want to take your chances, keep this in mind. Children who are in the home with you or who may visit you often will also be impacted by the tobacco smoke in your home. Given that children are more susceptible to ear infections than adults, you may want to quit for the benefit of those you love.



Remember to Get Your Annual Flu Vaccine

That annual flu shot does more than you think. It’s great that you get it as a way to reduce your chances of catching the flu. Knowing that you're less likely to become ill or that your body will have an easier time getting through a mild bout is worth it. What you may not know is that the flu shot is also indirectly helping reduce the odds of ending up with an ear infection. 


The reasons are similar to those related to getting rid of excessive amounts of earwax. The inflammation that causes the soreness, the headaches, and the stuffy head symptoms associated with the flu can also mean inflammation in the ear. If it develops, you may need antibiotics administered by a physician as part of your ear infection treatment. Wouldn’t it be nice if things never progressed to the point of having an infection in the first place? 


Do Your Bit to Avoid Getting a Cold

The common cold is no fun at all. Along with feeling bad already, it could also set the stage for the development of a middle ear infection or possibly an inner ear infection. Since you already feel lousy enough, the last thing that you need is a problem with your ears. 


Using strategies designed to reduce the risk of getting a cold indirectly helps you minimize the potential for an ear infection. By all means, limit your contact with people who have colds. That may mean taking steps to avoid them in the workplace, in social settings, or even spend less time around them at home. 


Make sure you get enough recuperative sleep. That helps strengthen your immune system and make it harder to get a cold in the first place. Also make sure your diet provides a reasonable amount of vitamins and minerals. It doesn’t hurt to exercise regularly as a way to further strengthen your immune system.


Remember that your goal is to do what you can to avoid developing an ear infection. Should one come out, don’t try to ride it out by yourself. Contact your physician and go in for an appointment. A shot, possibly irrigation of the ear, and a blister pack with specific daily dosages for the next several days could be the most effective way to remedy the infection and help you feel better. 

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