The Facts About Ear Infections

An ear infection is an infection of the middle ear, the air-filled space behind the eardrum. Children are most likely to develop ear infections, but adults can get them too.

Ear infections are commonly associated with colds or the flu because the middle ear is connected to the upper respiratory tract by a tiny channel known as the Eustachian tube. Germs that are growing in the nose or sinus cavities can climb up the Eustachian tube and enter the middle ear to start growing.

The most common symptoms associated with ear infections in children include:

  • Ear pain, especially when lying down
  • Tugging or pulling at an ear
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Crying more than usual
  • Trouble hearing or responding to sounds
  • Loss of balance
  • Fever of 100 F (38 C) or higher
  • Drainage of fluid from the ear

Ear pain, difficulty hearing and drainage of fluid from the ear are the most common symptoms in adults.

While anyone can develop an ear infection, there are multiple factors that can increase your chances of developing one, including:

  • Age – Children between the ages of 6 months and 2 years are more susceptible to ear infections because of the size and shape of their Eustachian tubes and because their immune systems are still developing.
  • Group child care – Children cared for in group settings are more likely to get colds and ear infections than are children who stay home.
  • Bottle feeding – Babies who drink from a bottle, especially while lying down, tend to have more ear infections than do babies who are breast-fed.
  • Seasonal factors. Ear infections are most common during the fall and winter. People with seasonal allergies may have a greater risk of ear infections when pollen counts are high.
  • Poor air quality. Exposure to tobacco smoke or high levels of air pollution can increase the risk of ear infections.

Because ear infections often clear up on their own, treatment may begin with managing pain and monitoring symptoms. When they don’t however, antibiotics can be used to clear the infection. Some people are prone to having multiple ear infections. This can cause hearing problems and other serious complications.

It is important to see your doctor when:

  • The patient is less than six months old
  • Symptoms last more than a day
  • Pain is severe
  • There is a discharge of fluid

Most ear infections don’t cause long-term complications, but if someone develops them repeatedly, they can lead to complications including impaired hearing, speech or development delays and spread of infection to nearby tissue.

The best ways to reduce the risk of developing an ear infection include practicing good hand hygiene and social distancing to avoid contracting the common cold, the flu or other viruses and bacterial infections that can lead to them. Other tips include breast-feeding your baby and avoiding secondhand smoke.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Is Taking Zinc Beneficial for Treating a Cold ?

Using zinc is one of the many home remedies people take when they feel like they have a common cold. Those who use it believe that it helps to shorten the duration of the cold and even lessen its symptoms.

The common cold is caused by the rhinovirus. This virus enters the body through the nasal passageway and the throat and multiplies rapidly once it is there.
The theory behind taking zinc is that it helps to prevent the virus from multiplying once it is in the body, thereby potentially shortening the duration of the cold. It also plays an important role in the body’s ability to resist infection and to help tissue repair.

The best way to take zinc is in lozenge form. It is recommended that the lozenge contain 13 to 23 milligrams of zinc and no more than four be taken per day, and not for more than four or five days. Taking too much zinc can actually suppress the immune system and can cause an upset stomach and give you a metallic taste in your mouth. While zinc is also available as a throat spray, it has side effects such as loss of the ability to smell.

Increasing the daily intake of zinc may help to prevent a cold.  Some foods where zinc  is found include:
• Shellfish
• Beans
• Dairy products
• Red meat
• Nuts

It is important to note that drinking coffee, tea or taking certain medications can inhibit the absorption of zinc by the intestines.

It is a good idea to speak with your physician before taking it to make sure that is safe for you. If you would like to be seen by a doctor at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center you may call 718-206-7001 to schedule an appointment.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

How Does Sleep Affect Your Immune System?

Hispanic girl lying on her mother's lap

Lack of sleep can affect your immune system, but how? Studies show that people that don’t get quality sleep or enough hours of sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus like the flu. The recovery time from a cold is also prolonged as a result of not getting enough sleep.

Sleep deprivation may decrease production of the amount of infection-fighting antibodies and cells that strengthen the immune system. Essentially our bodies need sleep to fight infectious diseases and recover faster from common cold viruses.

How much sleep do you need to bolster your immune system? The optimal amount of sleep for most adults is seven to eight hours of good sleep each night. Teenagers need nine to 10 hours of sleep. School-aged children may need 10 or more hours of sleep.

It’s very common to be told to get some rest when fighting off a cold or infection. Now we know why. As we move through cold and flu season, the key to staying healthy might just be getting a good night’s sleep.

However sleep does not always come easy to everyone. If you or someone you know is experiencing trouble with their sleep patterns, Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Sleep Center is available to treat you. This state-of-the-art Sleep Center is a 4-bed unit that features comfortable, homelike rooms with sound proof walls for total privacy. For more information please call, 718-206-5916.

For more hospital events, highlights, health and  fitness tips, visit us on 

Facebook.com/JamaicaHospital and follow us on Twitter @JamaicaHospital !

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

How to tell the difference between a long lasting cold, bronchitis or pneumonia

difference between a cold and bronchitisThat dreaded time of year is here, it is cold season.  In the United States, this season starts around September and typically lasts until March or April.

Chances are like many, you may catch a cold. If you do, you may display symptoms that include sneezing, scratchy or sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, coughing, congestion or a low-grade fever. These symptoms are normal but can worsen when left untreated and may cause serious illnesses such as bronchitis or pneumonia to develop.

It is important to know when your condition is worsening. There are several signs that can help you to recognize when your common cold has become something more.

Here are some symptoms of bronchitis to look out for:

  • A cold that persists for two weeks or more
  • Shortness of breath or wheezing
  • Coughs that produce thick clear, white, green or yellow mucous or blood
  • Rapid breathing
  • Soreness of the chest

Pneumonia can develop after having a serious cold or flu. Symptoms can be mild or severe depending on factors such as age and your state of health. The symptoms of pneumonia can include:

  • Violent coughing spasms that produce very little mucous
  • Coughs with bloody or yellow or greenish mucous
  • Fever
  • Sharp or stabbing chest pain when you breathe deeply or cough
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Clammy skin or excessive sweating
  • Chills
  • Muscle aches

If your cold persists longer than two weeks and you are experiencing these symptoms, it is important that you contact your doctor as soon as possible. In severe cases, pneumonia can be life threatening.

To schedule an appointment with a physician at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, please call 718-206-7001.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.