Ear infections are extremely painful and, unfortunately, are prevalent, especially among children. Ear infections can occur from anything that blocks or irritates the Eustachian tube in the ears, including viral infection (like a cold), upper respiratory infection, enlarged adenoid glands and allergic reaction. If you or your child has an ear infection, see a doctor immediately. The doctor might prescribe antibiotics or another suitable treatment. In addition, the following are things you should avoid when you have an ear infection to prevent it from becoming worse.
When a toddler or infant has an ear infection, it is best not to bottle feed him/her while lying down. If the child's head is not elevated, milk can flow back into the ears. This creates a welcoming environment for bacteria to grow. Instead, feed the child sitting up or elevate the head while he or she is eating. Breast-feeding is another option for infants. Breast milk has the added benefit of containing immune-boosting nutrients to help the child's body fight off infection.
Air Travel and Cold Weather
When suffering from an ear infection, be sure to protect yourself from cold or avoid visiting cold climates if possible. Cold weather can cause a painful ear infection to worsen. If you live in a cold climate, protect yourself from the cold, especially your head and ears. High altitudes and the decompression that occurs during air travel also can irritate the ears, causing an ear infection to worsen.
Pollutants in the air, especially smoke, is best avoided with an ear infection. Smoke and other pollutants can congest the Eustachian tube in the ears, reducing oxygen flow and exacerbating an infection. Stay away from wood burning stoves, cigarette smoke and any other smoke-filled area.
Excessive Dairy or Carbohydrates
A diet containing too many carbohydrates and dairy products, even the healthy kind, might spell trouble for the ears. Excessive carbohydrates and dairy in the diet can lead to extreme mucus production. Too much mucus can mean a host of problems, because it interferes with healthy organ and tissue function. Congestion and inflammation from excess mucus in the ears can lead to or worsen an infection. Refer to the food pyramid provided by the U.S. government for serving recommendations to avoid ear problems.
When you have an ear infection, avoid getting water in the ears at all costs. Fluid in the ear canal can cause pain and irritation and allow more bacteria to grow. Put cotton in your ears while in the shower, stay out of the rain and, of course, do not go swimming.