Preventing Common ENT Infections

Infection Prevention Week is upon us! While many ENT-related illnesses are congenital and non-preventable, there are actually quite a few ailments that can be greatly reduced with some simple patient interventions.

Ear Infections: While genetics can certainly make some people, especially children, more susceptible to ear infections, there are some things that can be done to reduce your chances of developing one. Ear infections occur when bacteria enters the ear and becomes trapped, causing an array of problems. Try implementing the following:

  • Identify and treat allergens
  • Keep all immunizations up-to-date
  • DO NOT remove ear wax unless directed by a physician
  • Never use Q-tips in the ears
  • Avoid exposure to cigarette smoke
  • Implement frequent hand-washing

Sinus Infections: Sinus infections are caused when germs enter the hollow cavities that surround the eyes and nose. While structural defects can make some patients more prone to them, try implementing the following interventions to reduce your chances of developing one:

  • Identify and treat allergens. Most chronic sinus problems are caused by allergies while acute infections are usually due to bacteria and may require the use of antibiotics.
  • For those that suffer from chronic sinus problems, try using a nasal spray daily. Flonase is an excellent over-the-counter option.
  • If you develop a cold, try using a nasal saline spray until it passes. This will keep your nasal passages from getting blocked and will help prevent an infection from forming in those cavities.

Sore Throats: Sore throats can be due to a variety of causes, including sleep apnea, reflux, and in rare cases, cancer. However, the vast majority are due to bacteria or viruses and will subside in a few days. Here are some things you can do to prevent one from striking in your home:

  • Avoid exposure to smoke
  • Implement frequent hand-washing
  • Treat esophageal reflux
  • Get plenty of rest

Frequent hand-washing still remains at the forefront of illness prevention and is the single-most important way to prevent the spread of illness. Coughing into your sleeve and staying home from work/school when you are ill are also of huge importance. Lastly, it is key to remember that not all ENT disorders can be prevented; however if you find yourself with a new onset of symptoms that are not relieved by any of the above interventions, contact our office to schedule an appointment. There may be something more serious going on that requires the evaluation of a professional.

Leave a reply