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Why You Shouldn't Ignore Your Child's Ear Pain

The most common reason parents bring their children to the doctor is because of ear pain. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) estimates that fully 5 of 6 children will suffer from at least one ear infection before they reach the age of 3. 

It’s not hard for some parents to feel that childhood is a sequence of seemingly never-ending ear infections, and these are one of the most common causes of ear pain in children. 

The pediatric ear, nose, and throat experts at Lawrence Otolaryngology Associates frequently treat children for bacterial infections of the middle ear. 

Though ear infections are a frequent childhood illness, they’re not an ailment to be disregarded as a harmless part of growing up. Ear infections can heal on their own, but serious complications could arise while you wait for your child’s body to fight off the bacteria.   

Causes of pediatric ear pain

Ear pain typically comes from blockages affecting the anatomy around the ear, and in turn, these blockages often lead to ideal habitats for bacterial growth, the gateway to infection. 

Tracing back to the cause of blockages gives better insight into potentially avoiding ear pain. Allergies and viral respiratory infections like colds and flu can cause fluid to build up in the middle ear, which is normally filled with air at the same pressure as the surrounding environment. 

Sometimes, adenoid glands swell and block drainage routes from the middle ear. In other cases, a blockage might be from impacted ear wax or an object that a curious child puts in their ear. 

Chronic ear infections

Children who suffer from frequent ear infections often have fairly level eustachian tubes, the primary drainage route for the middle ear. As they get older, the tubes get bigger and develop a downward slope, draining more easily once their bodies mature. 

Why you shouldn’t ignore your child’s ear pain

The relationship between ear pain and blockages means your child's pain may be accompanied by hearing loss. The shorter the time their hearing is impaired, the more your child can keep up developmentally, since hearing is essential to communication and learning. 

Blockages from wax or foreign objects are usually easy to deal with. Our physicians remove the blockage, check for any other problem or damage, and your child’s hearing and pain likely vanish with the blockage. 

When fluid in the middle ear is the problem, stopping the infection is usually the solution. Viral infections can clear on their own, but bacterial infections don’t always pass without intervention, usually in the form of antibiotics. 

Without treatment, your child could suffer permanent hearing loss if there’s damage to the eardrum or other ear structures. Bacterial infections can also spread to surrounding areas or even travel through the body. 

So, while earaches and infections are common childhood maladies, they sometimes have the potential to create serious health issues. There’s often no way to discern benign earaches from harmful bacterial infections. 

Play it safe and schedule an examination for your child with the head and neck specialists at Lawrence Otolaryngology Associates in Lawrence and Ottawa. Call or click to book with the nearest office at the first sign of ear pain.

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