Ear pain is not always caused by ear disorders. Often it is a consequence of an infection in the nose, mouth or, for example, the throat. In that case the pain radiates to the ear.
In children, ear pain is often the result of an accumulation of moisture and an increased pressure in the middle ear. The middle ear is usually filled with air. The middle ear is the part of the ear behind the esophagus, which communicates with the nose through the tube known as the 'Eustachius'. As soon as the mucous membrane swells up, this tube is seated and may cause a middle ear infection. A lot of moisture is then produced. As soon as this moisture can no longer be disposed of, this leads to a pressure increase and then to an earache.
The Eustachius tube is shorter and smaller in children than in adults. Therefore, children are more prone to colds and ear infection. Children with an ear infection hear a little less well during and immediately after the inflammation. The ear can be red and the children are more irritable.
The doctor will conduct an examination. He will look at the wax with an otoscope. Furthermore, he will examine the nose and throat. This is to exclude other conditions. In a rare cases, a hearing test may be necessary- for example when hearing loss persists after the child has been healed for a longer period of inflammation.
Middle ear infection and treatment
Fever and earache almost always disappear after 3 days.
In the following cases, consult your GP:
If necessary, ask the doctor for medication. If your child has severe earache, have him drink plenty of fluids. Paracetamol may help with the pain, but consult your GP. To eliminate the swelling of the mucous membrane, your child may benefit from nasal drops.
Children should never get aspirin without medical advice. Aspirin can lead to the rare but severe Reyes syndrome in which acute liver damage can occur.