Health - Conditions
By: - at June 10, 2013

Earaches - Causes and Treatments


Kid with Ear Pain

The most common cause of earache in children is infection of the middle ear (space just behind the eardrum). 80% of children have at least one episode of ear infection before the age of three. Other causes of earache are: infection of the external ear canal (from the ear-hole up to the eardrum), foreign body in the ear canal, impacted wax in the ear and toothache.

Middle-Ear Infection (Otitis Media)
Human Ear Parts

The story typically starts with an ordinary cold, drippy nose accompanied by sneezing. On the third or fourth day, the child becomes more irritable and begins to cry, pointing towards his/her ear. Usually, the child also develops a fever ranging from 101 to 102 degrees F and there is a yellowish discharge from the nose. In some cases, the eardrum bursts as a result of the pressure of the pus that builds up behind it. The pus comes out from the ear, after which the child stops crying.

Keeping the feet warm or covering the ears with caps and mufflers will not prevent ear infections; the germs crawl up from the throat on the inside - not the outside. Blowing the nose too much or too vigorously may blow bacteria up the throat and into the middle ear space.

Middle ear infections should not be taken lightly because repeated ear infection can cause deafness. Deafness can adversely affect the child's speech development. The infection from the ear can easily reach the brain causing meningitis; a potentially fatal condition.

Why do some children get recurrent ear infections? Inadequate treatment of a minor cold or throat infection seems to be the most obvious cause. It could also be due to an immune system weakened by improper diet and lack of nutrition.

Earache Treatment
Earache TreatmentThe most common treatment is with antibiotics. Proper selection of an antibiotic by the doctor is of utmost importance. The antibiotic is generally given orally and should be continued for at least ten days.

As additional treatment, use anti-cold preparations containing antihistamines and decongestants are usually given simultaneously. Apply a hot water bottle or moist hot cloth to the ear for ten to fifteen minutes, three to four times a day if the child complains of pain. Painkillers (Ibuprofen, Paracetamol) may be used if there is a lot of pain. The ear must be kept dry and the pus cleaned frequently. Use earplugs made of cotton balls while bathing, to prevent water from going inside the middle ear through the perforated eardrum. This practice should be continued for as long as possible, otherwise the middle ear infection would return.

Sometimes a clear fluid remains behind the eardrum even after the child has recovered from the illness. This generally gets absorbed on its own. But, if there is significant loss of hearing even after two months, the doctor may decide to drain it by putting in a tiny tube.

External Ear Infection (Otitis Externa)
Any ear infection which remains confined to the space external to the ear drum is called Otitis externa. Bacteria, fungus, allergy, etc. can all cause external ear infection. It is common in swimmers, hence it is also known as Swimmer’s ear.

The child does not necessarily have a cough or cold, but may complain of earache. The ear canal may appear red and there may be a small boil inside. Movement of the ear aggravates the pain. Nodes in the vicinity may be enlarged.

Antibiotic drops/ointment generally cures the condition. In some cases antibiotics may have to be given orally Do not allow swimming for at least a week or so until the condition improves.

Impacted Wax
Ear Wax RemovalWax normally lines the external ear canal and protects it from invading germs. Sometimes it hardens and gets impacted against the eardrum causing an earache.

It is best to consult your doctor about the wax. At times, impacted wax can be removed from the ear canal with this home treatment or remedy.  By putting two to three drops of coconut oil inside the ear for three nights and then flushing it out with warm water filled in a syringe without a needle, you can clear the wax and relieve the earache. You may have to flush the ear several times before the wax comes out. Do not push in the water with great force and stop immediately if the child complains of dizziness or pain.


 

 

 

 

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