Bathwater not to blame for child's ear infections


March 01, 1994|By Modena Wilson, M.D. and Alain Joffe, M.D. | Modena Wilson, M.D. and Alain Joffe, M.D.,Special to The Sun

Q: My son has had three ear infections. Do you think I caused jTC them by getting water in his ears when I washed his hair?

He really hates to get his hair washed and fights me when I do it even though he's only 2.

A: Bathwater does not cause ear infections. Ear infections happen in a part of the ear canal called the middle ear.

The eardrum stretches across the canal, preventing water from reaching the middle ear.

Ear infections are caused by bacterial, and possibly viral germs.

These do not get into the middle ear through the ear canal.

Your son may not like the feel of water in his outer ear for reasons that have nothing to do with ear infections.

The eardrum is quite sensitive, and the temperature of the water may be too hot or cold for comfort.

He may not like the water temporarily blocking his hearing.

Quite possibly, his objections to hair washing has nothing to do with his ears. Two-year-olds often object to having anything done to them.

Maybe you can make a game out of washing hair!

Dr. Wilson is director of general pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center; Dr. Joffe is director of adolescent medicine.

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