How to Prevent Ear Infections From Affecting You

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  • Consume a diet of fresh, organically grown dark-colored fruits and vegetables. These are notably high in antioxidants and other nutrients that may assist in promoting better immune system health
  • Eliminate grains and sugars, including soda and fruit juice, from your child’s diet, since these can negatively impact their immune system response and place them at risk for various infections

Children and adults who may be predisposed to ear infections can combat this condition by taking note of these preventive strategies. These may assist with boosting the immune system in one way or another or fight the agent responsible for the infection.

A Healthy Diet’s Role Against Ear Infections

Consume a diet of fresh, organically grown dark-colored fruits and vegetables as much as possible. These are notably high in antioxidants and other nutrients that may assist in promoting better immune system health. Don’t forget to include moderate quantities of grass fed meats, and healthy fat-rich foods like avocados, coconuts, grass fed butter and pastured egg yolks as well.

Probiotics, or good bacteria, may be considered to prevent ear infections too. Researchers are looking into the possible “protective value” of some strains of Lactobacilli bacteria found in the intestines. While studies have provided mixed results regarding probiotics’ benefits toward ear infection prevention,1 initial research has found that you can reap benefits when you consume probiotic-rich foods or take a high-quality probiotic supplement.

Preventing ear infections can also be accomplished by modifying some food allergies. Apart from providing their children with healthy foods, parents can help ease  ear infection-causing allergies by:

  • Eliminating grains and sugars, including soda and fruit juice, from their diet, since these can negatively impact a child’s immune system response and place them at risk for various infections.
  • Removing pasteurized milk from their diet, as consumption of dairy products (especially pasteurized dairy) may be linked to allergic reactions.
  • Considering the elimination of wheat products among diets of children with recurrent infections, since subclinical gluten intolerance can raise a child’s risk for allergies. Take note that wheat and gluten are typically problematic for most children, and may lead to certain allergies.

Can Breastfeeding Help Prevent an Ear Infection

Breastfeeding can be effective against ear infections, since the milk contains immune factors that potentially reduce infection risk. Furthermore, the position most infants are held in when they are breastfed permits proper function of the Eustachian tubes, reducing ear infection risk.

It’s highly advisable that new mothers breastfeed their infants for at least four to six months. The American Academy of Pediatrics highlights that exclusive breastfeeding for babies during the first six months of their life may reduce the risk of ear and respiratory infections. If you have no choice but to bottle-feed a baby, hold the infant in the same way as they are when being breastfed. Bottle-fed babies who are lain down during feeding sessions may have a higher ear infection risk.2

Good Hygiene Is a Must in Preventing an Ear Infection

Colds and flu viruses, which may be precursors for ear infections, can be transmitted when an infected person coughs or sneezes near someone else. They may also spread through physical contact, such as shaking hands. Hence, it’s advisable that people thoroughly wash their hands before eating and after going outside.

If you constantly clean your ear with a cotton swab, you may want to reconsider. Earwax isn’t the nuisance you thought it would be, since it may help deliver protection, lubrication and even some antibacterial properties that can assist with ear protection. The American Hearing Research Foundation highlights that there are around 10 antimicrobial peptides in your earwax that primarily assist in preventing growth of bacteria and fungi.3

Earwax is usually formed in the outer third of your outer ear canal, and moves outward carrying dirt and debris with it. However, wearing ear plugs, headphones or hearing aids may slow down or stop this migration process. The presence of earwax against your eardrum can mean that you may have been too vigorous when using a cotton swab, rolled napkin or other object while cleaning your outer ear canal.

It’s advisable to leave earwax alone unless you exhibit indicators of blockage of buildup in your canal, such as:

  • Earache
  • Itching, odor or discharge from the ear
  • Partial or progressive hearing loss
  • Tinnitus, ringing or noises in the ear
  • A feeling of fullness in the ear canal

Remember These Precautions if You’re Planning to Swim Anytime Soon

If your child has an ear infection, exercise extreme caution if you plan to take them swimming. Water pollutants and chemicals may exacerbate the infection, and underwater swimming can trigger pressure changes, and eventually pain.

It’s advised that children with a middle ear infection that’s not ruptured must avoid diving or swimming underwater. Children with a middle ear infection and a ruptured ear canal, however, (characterized by fluid drainage) shouldn’t swim unless all infections are completely resolved.4

For children with implanted ear tubes, some doctors allow swimming, provided that the child will wear or use earplugs, swim caps or water-resistant headbands5 to lower infection risk. However, other doctors may say that earplugs are needed only if the child will dive underwater. Because of the confusion regarding this, parents must talk to their child’s doctor before allowing them to go swimming.6

Avoid Exposure to Cigarette Smoke if You Want to Prevent Ear Infections

Numerous studies conducted over the years proved that being exposed to cigarette smoke may significantly increase a person’s risk for ear infections.7,8,9

In particular, researchers from the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research in Australia found that 64 percent of Aboriginal children and 40 percent of non-Aboriginal children who were exposed to environmental tobacco smoke developed middle ear infections.10 Hence, parents or guardians who smoke should stop the habit to prevent putting themselves or their child at risk of an ear infection.

It’s an often-repeated saying, but for ear infections, prevention is better than cure. Because of the potential of ear infections to target people across different age groups, it’s essential that you start protecting yourself and your loved ones from agents responsible for this condition.

MORE ABOUT EAR INFECTION

Ear Infection: An Introduction

What Is an Ear Infection?

Ear Infection Symptoms

Ear Infection Causes

Types of Ear Infection

Ear Infection in Babies and Children

Are Ear Infections Contagious?

Ear Infection Treatment

Essential Oils for Ear Infection

Ear Infection Prevention

Ear Infection FAQ

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