What's the Issue?
On the way to the pharmacy for the umpteenth time this year, have you wrestled with these thoughts? Wait a minute! My toddler is not the only child in a daycare setting. I keep a clean house … relatively. I don't smoke. My toddler is not "sickly." Then why does every sniffle seem to settle into a bacterial ear infection?
I promise you, you're not alone!
Consider the Numbers
Peek around the waiting room and you'll likely run into other parents of feverish kids holding their ears. Why?
- There were 16 million office visits for ear infections in the US in 2000. (Half of them were in my practice. Or so it seemed.)
- For every 10 pediatric office visits for ear infections, eight children left the office with an antibiotic prescription. (Not from my practice, I hope!)
- More than 75 percent of children have had at least one ear infection by their third birthday—and 70 percent of kids have had at least one course of antibiotics by their first birthday.
What Parents Can Do
Know that many parents are in the same (albeit germ-laden) boat. Multiple ear infections (or recurrent otitis media) are common in the toddler age group for multiple reasons.
Ear Infection Factors
First is exposure. At the end of his second year, your toddler is creating an immunity repertoire. Just like he needs to build a workable vocabulary in advance of his first job interview, he needs also to build immunity to a number of different viruses and bacteria over the course of his infancy and toddlerhood. Think of this infection exposure as adding to his toddler germ resume. More infections mean better long-term immunity, but the price you pay is more otitis media in the meantime.