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Published on December 07, 2018

Ear InfectionInfection Prevention: Ear Infections and Preventing Germs

In this Fox 8 House Call series, Cone Health experts discuss infection prevention topics, including:

Kids & Ear Infections

Cold and flu are most prevalent in winter in both children and adults, but ear infections are also a common cause of illness in children. Although adults can develop ear infections as well, they are more likely to be found in children and tend to happen more often when children have cough and cold symptoms. Regular hand washing and using hand sanitizer is the best way to prevent the spread of infection, along with teaching kids to cough and sneeze into their elbow.

Ear infections are often very painful and can lead to other complications if not treated properly. Infants with an ear infection will often become fussy and may tug on their ears. Older children will complain of pain in their ears. Please keep your child at home when they are sick with a fever to prevent the spread of infection to others. If they are in pain, you can certainly give the child acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin) to make them more comfortable.

The best way to prevent the flu is to get your annual flu shot. Even if you do get the flu after getting your flu shot, you will be less likely to spread it since you’ve had the vaccine, and you’ll recover faster. If you suspect your child may be suffering from an ear infection or the flu, it is important to discuss the symptoms and proper treatment with their doctor. Children should be fever-free for 24 hours before returning to daycare or school.

Ross Kuhner, MD, is the medical director and board-certified pediatric emergency medicine specialist at Cone Health’s Children’s Emergency Department located at The Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital.

Infection Prevention: Prevent Spreading Germs During the Holidays

The holidays are an exciting time of year, but they’re also the height of cold and flu season. Many seasonal illnesses are passed from person to person through food or contact, which is why it is very important to try to protect yourself by practicing good hygiene. The best way to prevent the flu is to get your annual flu shot. Not only do you protect yourself from the flu, but you also protect those who aren’t able to get a flu vaccine by preventing the spread of it.

Regular hand washing is an important step in preventing the spread of germs. When washing your hands, use lukewarm water and wash for at least 20 seconds, making sure to scrub all surfaces of your hands. Remember to wash your hands thoroughly before eating and after coughing or sneezing, visiting the restroom, shopping or attending holiday parties. Hand sanitizer is also a great on-the-go method of keeping germs at bay when you’ll be interacting with a lot of people.

Any time you need to cough or sneeze, cover your mouth completely within your elbow to help keep your hands germ-free. For kids, we describe this as the “vampire cough” method, where you place your nose into your elbow like a vampire.

Be in tune with your body, particularly this time of year. If you are sick—if you have a high fever or other flu-like symptoms—please stay at home. The flu is contagious and you are very likely to pass it on to another person if you are around them for a long period of time. If you are experiencing symptoms of the flu, schedule an appointment with your primary care doctor or go to urgent care as soon as possible.

Angela Bacigalupo, MD, MPH, is a family medicine physician with Burlington Family Practice and a member of Cone Health Medical Group.

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