Ear pain is one of the most common pains faced by young children. The cause for the occurrence of these pains can be attributed to one of the following diseases/infections.
- Otitis media with effusion– Occurs when the tube connecting the middle ear to the back of the nose (the Eustachian tube) gets blocked resulting in the collection of fluid behind the ear drum. Since this is not a bacterial infection, antibiotics are not useful instead pain relief medication like acetaminophen or ibuprofen are used. This condition usually resolves within 3 months and can cause temporary hearing loss in its wake.
- Ear infection (acute otitis media) – when the Eustachian tube gets blocked and fluid gets collected in the middle ear space, pathogens can sometimes accumulate in the fluid & cause infection. The children who are infected with bacteria can be treated using antibiotics.
- Swimmer’s ear (otitis externa) – when the skin in the external ear canal gets irritated & scratchy, it can cause an infection in the external ear canal. Antibiotic ear drops and pain-relieving medicines are used for its treatment.
- Eustachian tube dysfunction – it is a condition which causes ear pain, ear fullness, decreased hearing, tinnitus or cracking in the ear. The treatment of this condition involves the treatment of the underlying cause of the dysfunction including allergic rhinitis, rhinosinusitis, laryngopharyngeal reflux, GERD and exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke.
- Other causes of ear pain include injury to the ear or ear canal, foreign object in the ear canal or wax buildup.
- Teething in babies is also a known causative of ear pain
Common prevention strategies for ear pain in babies
- Breastfeeding the babies for at least 6-12 months
- Avoiding exposure of the baby to second-hand cigarette smoke
- Holding the baby semi-upright while feeding helps prevent the formula to flow into the Eustachian tubes
- Prevent exposure to infectious environments as much as possible
- Babies should be vaccinated timely
Common home remedies for treating ear pain
- Placing warm compress over the child’s ear for 10-15 minutes
- For babies older than 6 months, acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be used to alleviate the pain
- In case no fluid is leaking from the baby’s ear & there are no chances for the ear drum to be ruptured, few drops of slightly warmed sesame oil or olive oil can pe placed in the baby’s ear.
- The child should be offered fluids often; swallowing can aid in opening of the eustachian tube and drain excess fluid.
- To improve the baby’s sinus drainage, the crib should be elevated at the head
- Homeopathic drops made from garlic, mullein, lavender, calendula, & St. John’s wort in olive oil can help relieve pain & inflammation.