Q: I frequently get ear infections during winter. Is there a way to prevent them?
A: Many adults and children suffer from ear infections, especially during the winter months. You can decrease your chances of developing an inner ear infection by following a few simple tips. First, try to avoid smoking cigarettes or inhaling secondhand smoke. The heat and tar increase mucous production and decrease your body’s ability to get rid of it, causing thick mucous to build up and get infected. When sinus fluid backs up, it drains from the nose, trickles down the throat, and pushes on your eardrum, causing pressure and pain. Your doctor diagnoses an inner ear infection if this fluid gets infected and inflames your inner ear. Another common cause for ear infections is seasonal allergies. Dust mites love a made bed, so moms: keep those beds unmade if your child has a dust allergy. You can also take a daily over-the-counter antihistamine such as loratadine (Claritin) or cetirizine (Zyrtec). Nasal saline washes and rinses can also help clear allergy triggers from the sinuses and help prevent sinus and ear infections. Last but not least, wash your hands frequently with warm water and antibacterial soap, and try to avoid coughing without covering your mouth as this spreads the germs that cause infection and lead to sinus and ear pain.