KID CARE FOR EAR PROBLEMSYou Know the Signs
You know the signs of ear problems - crankiness, maybe a slight fever, tugging or rubbing the ear. Earaches seem to be a natural part of childhood. But what can you do to help? Use the checklist provided to find out when to call the doctor. If it's OK to treat the ear problem yourself, follow the tips provided to help ease the discomfort.Why are Ear Problems So Common?
A child's Eustachian tube (the connection between the ear and throat) is narrower and more horizontal than an adult's. As a result, the tube is easily blocked due to a cold or allergies. When this happens, the middle ear may fill with fluid, requiring medical care. In addition, moisture from swimming or bathing can infect the outer ear or the eardrum. Earwax build-up in the outer ear may also cause discomfort.Help Ease Ear Discomfort
Its frustrating to see your child in pain. But you can do a lot to help. Your goal is to relieve the discomfort until the ear heals or until your child can be seen by a doctor. Try the tips below.Reducing Outer Ear Pain
If your child's ear aches, try these suggestions:
Use a non-aspirin pain reliever, such as acetaminophen. Never give aspirin to anyone 18 or younger.
Apply heat to the painful ear. Try a hot water bottle or a warm, dry towel just out of the dryer.Clearing Away Visible Wax
Its usually best to leave earwax alone. However, if your child has excessive wax build-up in the outer ear, follow these tips:
Wipe away visible wax with a soft cloth. Never use cotton swabs. They only push the wax farther into the ear.
Older children can take a warm shower. Let water run gently into the ear to soften the wax, then tip the head to let the water drain out.
With children old enough to sit still, use a bulb syringe to squirt warm water or warm mineral oil in the ear to soften the wax
Never clear out wax if you notice ear drainage, a runny nose, fever or other cold symptoms. These may be signs of an ear infection, which need a doctor's attention.Drying Out Water in the Ear
Usually water in the ear will dry out itself. However, if your child has problems with water in the ear, try this:
After your child swims, bathes or gets his or her hair washed, soak a cotton ball in hydrogen peroxide and wipe the outer ear
If water remains in the ear, soak a cotton ball in hydrogen peroxide or an over-the-counter ear drop solution (ask your pharmacists for suggestions). Place it in the child's ear, leaving it overnight. In the morning, rinse the ear with warm water.Preventing Other Ear Problems
You can help prevent some ear problems. Following these suggestions may help:
Bottle-feed only while your child's head is elevated not while the child is lying down flat.
Prevent your child from sticking anything in the ear.
Protect your child from second hand smoke, which can make ear problems more likely.When to Treat at Home
Sooner or later, your child is likely to get an earache or have another ear problem. Generally, its okay to treat problems with the outer ear at home. Use this checklist to help you determine if the problem is with the outer ear.
Its probably an outer ear problem if you can confirm any of the following:
The child's outer ear aches or feels blocked
The pain gets worse when you wiggle the child's outer ear.
The child has no fever.
The child went swimming recently, especially in water warmer than 26.7°C.
The child has recently been on an airplane or at a different elevation.
Yawning or gently blowing the nose helps relieve the symptoms.When to Call the Doctor
Middle ear infections and all ear injuries need medical attention. Call the doctor's office if you notice any of the signs or symptoms listed below:
A temperature over 38.3°C and cold symptoms, such as a runny nose with green mucus.
Severe ear pain, or an ear that feels hot to the touch.
Any kind of discharge from the ear.
Aching or ringing ears, dizziness or nausea after an injury to the head.
The possibility of an object in the ear.
Persistent itching in the ear.
Ear pain that gets worse or doesn't go away after a few days.