Sunday, November 16, 2008

Ear Infections Prevention Tips

Ear Infections

Few pains are more excruciating to a young child than an earache. After the common cold, an ear infection is the most frequent childhood illness and three out of four children will experience an ear infection by their third birthday.

The ear has three parts: the outer ear, middle ear and inner ear, Rice explains. The outer ear, which collects sound, includes the part outside the head and the ear canal. At the end of the ear canal is the eardrum, a small circle of tissue about the size of a fingertip. Behind the eardrum is the middle ear, which is normally filled with air. When the eardrum vibrates, tiny bones in the middle ear transmit the sound to the inner ear, where nerves relay sound signals to the brain.

"You can avoid middle ear infections by keeping your child away from cigarette smoke and playmates who are sick," says Rice. Studies have shown that children who breathe tobacco smoke have a higher risk of developing health problems, including ear infections.

"Ear infections, like other infections, are essentially treated with antibiotics," Antibiotic drops may be prescribed if pus is leaking from the ear. If a child has a bulging eardrum and is in severe pain, a surgical incision may be made to the eardrum to release the pus.


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