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Part 4: Keeping Your Child Healthy  >  The A-Z of Childhood Illnesses  >  Earache, Ear Infections and Deafness

EARACHE, EAR INFECTIONS AND DEAFNESS

COMMON CAUSES:

  • Middle ear infection (Otitis Media).
  • External ear canal infection (Otitis Extema)
  • A foreign body
  • Wax
  • Toothache


Middle Ear Infection
Take middle ear infections seriously because recurrent ear infections can lead to deafness. As the brain is situated near the ear, infection from the ear can spread to the meninges covering the brain, leading to meningitis. Deafness at an early age can also hinder your child’s speech development. 

SYMPTOMS: The child has a cold for a few days. He wakes with high fever one night, crying and rubbing his ear. He remains restless throughout the night. The next morning, pus is discharged from the ear, after which he stops crying. In some cases of ear infection, hearing is only temporarily reduced and usually returns to normal after the infection is brought under control. Sometimes, a fluid may remain behind the eardrum even after a cold. This is clear fluid. In 30% of the cases, this also gets absorbed spontaneously within about 2 months.

TREATMENT: The mainstay of treatment of the middle ear infection is antibiotics, given by mouth in proper doses for 10 days. No eardrops should be put in the ear; the ear should be kept dry to help heal the perforation of the eardrum through which pus had come out. To dry the ear, clean the pus nearer the ear lobe with clean linen. To dry the inside of the ear canal, insert a small wick made from new newspaper into the ear and let it soak up the pus. Keep changing the wick every 2 minutes till the ear looks clean and dry. Do this 3 times a day. The child should not be allowed to go swimming till he recovers from the ear infection.

Consider the child’s nutrition if he gets recurrent ear infections. Your doctor may decide to put the child on some long-term antibiotics. If symptoms suggestive of enlarged adenoids are present, removal of the adenoids may be considered. 

Similarly, if the fluid behind the eardrum persists for a prolonged period, you may be offered tiny tubes (tympanostomy tubes) to be put in the eardrum to keep draining the middle ear. Doctors are divided on whether these tubes (also called gromet) give definite benefit or not. In older children, a wait-and-watch strategy may be adopted, because we can easily assess if the hearing is improving or not. In infants and toddlers, the decision sometimes tilts in favour of using these tubes because prolonged hearing loss can affect development of speech around this age.


External Ear Canal Infection (Otitis Extema)
CAUSES: The earwax present normally in our ear protects the external canal against moisture and germs. Putting anything inside the ear can result in irritation of the skin and removal of the normal wax, which can predispose the child to infection. Swimming can also result in otitis extema in some children.

SYMPTOMS: In this condition, the child does not have a cough or cold but complains of earache or points towards his ear. The child does not look too sick. On examination, the ear canal may look red and we may notice a small boil inside, which may burst, discharging a small amount of pus. Except for severe cases, there is no severe pain or high fever. Itching and mild pain are common features.

TREATMENT: Most cases of otitis extema get better on their own. Antibiotic drops may sometimes be required, and only rarely are antibiotics given by mouth. Do not allow swimming for 8 to 10 days.


Foreign Body In The Ear
An insect or a grain or other foreign object may be lodged in the child’s ear.

MANAGEMENT: In the case of an insect, do not try and remove it until you have put a few drops of warm coconut oil into the ear. If it does not come out easily, flush it out with warm (boiled and cooled) water filled in a syringe (without a needle).

With a grain or any other foreign body lodged in the ear, remove it if you can easily do it. Take the child to a doctor if you are unable to do this. If this is not possible, try to flush it out with a syringe filled with warm saline water. Flushing with water should not be undertaken if the child has had otitis media in the recent past.


Hard Wax
As mentioned above, the ear is normally lined with a thin layer of wax, which protects it from germs and moisture. Sometimes, this layer of wax can harden and cause earache or even deafness.

TREATMENT: Consult your doctor about the wax. If that is not possible, put 3 drops of coconut oil inside the ear at night for 3 nights. As the wax softens, flush it out with warm water and a syringe as detailed above. Repeat this several times. Stop immediately, however, if the child complains of pain or dizziness.


Deafness
If there is any doubt about the hearing of your infant, you must consult the doctor as soon as possible. If there is a family history of deafness, screening of your newborn can be done to rule out congenital deafness. In selected cases of childhood deafness, the hearing can be remarkably improved with the help of cochlear implants.
 




7 March, 2016

 
Part 4
The A-Z of Childhood Illnesses

Abdominal Pain
Abrasions or Scratches
Acute Glomerulonephritis
Acute Nephritis
Acute Watery Diarrhoea
Addictions
Adenoids
AIDS
Allergies
Anaemia
Anorexia (Poor Appetite)
Asthma
ADHD
Autism
Backache
Bed-Wetting (Enuresis)
Birth Deformities
Bites and Stings
Bleeding
Bone, Joint and Muscle Injuries
Bowlegs and Knock-Knees
Breathlessness
Bronchiolitis
Burns
Calcium Deficiency
Cancer
Cardiac Pulmonary Resuscitation
Cerebral Palsy (CP)
Chickenpox
Choking
Circumcision
Cleft Lip and Palate
Common Cold
Congenital Heart Disease
Constipation
Convulsions or Fits or Seizures
Cough
Croup
Crying
Cuts
Dengue Fever
Diabetes Mellitus
Diarrhoea, Dysentery ...
Diphtheria
Down's Syndrome
Earache, Ear Infections ...
Electric Shock
Encephalitis
Eye Problems
Fears
Foot Problems
German Measles (Rubella)
Glands in the Neck ...
Headache
Head Injury
Hepatitis
Hydrocephalus
Hypertension
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Influenza (Flu)
Jaundice
Joint Disorders
Kala-Azar
Leptospirosis
Limp and Pain in the Legs
Malaria
Malnutrition (Undernutrition)
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Meningomyelocele
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Mental Retardation (MR)
Mouth To Mouth Breathing
Mumps
Nephrotic Syndrome
Nose-Related Problems
Obesity
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Poisoning
Poliomyelitis
Premature Baby
Prolapse of the Rectum
Rabies
Rheumatic Fever
Rheumatoid Arthritis
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Short Child
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Sleep and Sleep Problems
Sore Throat (Pharyngitis)
Splinters
Stammering
Stridor (Noisy Breathing)
Teething and Care of Teeth
Tetanus (Lock Jaw)
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Tracheoesophageal Fistula
Tropical Eosinophilia
Tuberculosis (TB)
Typhoid
Umbilical Problems
Undescended Testis
Urinary Infection
Vaginal Discharge
Vomiting
Wheezing
Whooping Cough (Pertusis)



Part 4
Keeping Your Child Healthy
Choosing A Paediatrician
Proper Use of Medicines
Home Remedies
A First Aid Kit
The A-Z of Childhood Illnesses
Psychological Concerns
Managing A Hospital Stay
Emergencies
Prayer And Your Child's Health
The Role of Nature Cure
Homoeopathy
Ayurveda and Child Care
Congenital Heart Disease FAQ
 
Guide to Child Care
Home
Introduction
1 Pregnancy, Childbirth ...
2 The Growing Years
3 Feeding Infants, ...
4 Keeping Your Child Healthy
5 Keeping Your Child Happy
About Dr. R. K. Anand
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