Are ear infections on the rise?
It is a statement that many parents dread hearing at the doctor’s office and yet it happens quite often, “Your child has an ear infection.” The problem with pediatric ear infections from a parent’s perspective is that symptoms are all over the map. Sometimes a child will mention that their ear hurts and other times it comes up when addressing other abnormalities such as a fever, headache or allergies.
Unfortunately, the infection has been on the rise in pediatric patients. With respiratory viral infections due to seasonal allergies or kids simply developing symptoms, ear infections can be a serious issue. Repeated ear infections that aren’t treated in children can lead to hearing loss that could be temporary or even permanent.
Interestingly, during the COVID pandemic, research showed that hospitalizations for ear infections actually declined. With the pandemic easing up, pediatricians have been inundated with ear infections.
“We have seen quite an increase in viral illnesses with subsequent ear infections,” says Dr. Keith Benziger, pediatrician at Advocate Children’s Medical Group in Aurora, Ill. “Once the masks came off in schools and the daycares were back to full time, we were treating more ear infections than the first year or two of the pandemic.”
In severe cases, antibiotics will likely be prescribed. However, there are many recommendations limiting the use of antibiotics for children under the age of three, so be sure to check with your pediatrician.
Is there anything that parents can do or watch out for?
“Not all ear pain or pulling at the ear is an ear infection,” concludes Dr. Benziger. “If there is also an associated cold, fever or fussiness when lying down, then an ear infection is more likely.”
Some tips to help prevent ear infections in kids:
- Wash your hands: Washing with soap and water can help prevent the spread of germs, reducing the risk of catching a cold, flu or other viruses that can lead to an ear infection.
- Keep up to date on vaccinations: Many common vaccinations, such as the flu vaccine, can help boost the immune system and prevent kids from getting ear infections.
- Combat allergies early: Use antihistamines and other over-the-counter remedies to reduce the impact. Allergies can cause fluid buildup and inflammation which can lead to ear infections.
About the Author
Colin graduated from Marquette University with a degree in communications and has more than 10 years of experience in small marketing firms to Fortune 500 companies. Colin is married to his wonderful wife, Brooke, and they have two children. Outside of work, Colin enjoys golf, going to the gym, watching movies (he is a Star Wars nerd), tinkering with his home theater and spending time with family and friends.