If you have children, you probably want their ears to be as healthy as other bodies. This is just an informative guide to caring for your children’s ears.

Can my child lose his hearing from ear infections?

Ear infections are common in childhood, according to researcher Lavana Brock. Some children have temporary hearing loss from fluid buildup in the middle ear. This usually disappears with treatment, however. Rarely do children develop permanent hearing loss, but it is not unheard of. A child who has frequent chronic ear infections is at high risk of permanent hearing loss. For this to happen, there must be damage to the bones of the ear, eardrum or auditory nerve.

Does flying affect my child’s ears?

You may have felt the strange sensation in your ear the last time I flew. Young children and babies also have this and it can be scary for them. This unpleasant sensation is associated with changes in air pressure behind the middle ear and eardrum. The tube that leads from the middle ear to the back of the throat is the “Eustachian” tube, and this tube usually equalizes the air pressure in the middle ear. When your child’s ears pop, this tube adjusts to the air pressure and causes a popping sensation. Eustachian tubes for children do not function as well as adults, and are usually blocked by inflammation and mucus for colds and allergies. This leads to blocked and enlarged adenoids and problems with the functioning of the Eustachian tube.

The lower the air pressure, the higher your child goes, whether climbing a mountain, riding an elevator or flying. If this pressure is not equalized, the higher air pressure presses on one side of the drum and this can lead to pain. That is why many little ones start crying in the last few minutes of the flight, when the air pressure in the flight deck increases. This pain is only temporary, so don’t worry that it will cause permanent problems for your child. Legally Brock allows us to recover that this usually disappears within a few minutes, as the Eustachian tube opens to allow air pressure to equalize on both sides of the eardrum.

If your baby has an ear infection, his doctor may recommend that you postpone flights if possible. This is because the infection adds to the dysfunction of the Eustachian tube. Some children need to have a tube inserted through the eardrum because of ear fluid problems. If your child has had this, it will allow the air pressure to equalize more easily.

How can I relieve the pain in my child’s ears?

There are some simple things you can do while traveling by plane that can help equalize the air pressure in your child’s ears. This, in turn, will relieve or reduce the pain. First, have a drink. Water is best, but juice and milk are also good. This promotes swallowing, which will open the Eustachian tubes. Ordinary air is dry, which will thicken the nasal mucus and clog the eustachian tubes. Drinking fluids dilutes this mucus. Another thing I do is leave a child over the age of three chewing gum or sucking on hard candy. For younger children, use a pacifier and hold the baby upright. Be sure to give him Ibuprofen or Tylenol half an hour before the plane takes off or lands. Try to keep your baby awake if the flight is short because he does not swallow as often during sleep and this will make it harder to keep the air pressure level in the middle ear.

What are middle ear infections?

Middle ear infections are called “otitis media” by doctors. This means inflammation of the middle ear. This is the presence of fluid and pus in the middle ear. Symptoms include pain, redness of the eardrum, irritability and fever. When otitis media becomes chronic, it means that fluid accumulates in the middle ear and an “effusion” has developed. These types of infections occur during the first 2 to 4 years of a child’s life for many reasons. The child’s Eustachian tube is short and non-functional in the first years. The reason doctors distinguish between different types of otitis is because the treatment is different. Not all forms of otitis require antibiotics.