Ear Health for children
How to improve my child’s ear health
Ear health for children is very important; it gives us the sense of hearing. It is the first sense that develops in a baby even before he or she is born. Its an advanced and sensitive organ of the body, its main function is to transmit and converts the sound so that the brain can understand it. Hearing is an important medium, which help us to naturally connect to one another and to the environment around. Healthy ears are one of the most active parts of the body, it lets you hear sounds all the time, you cannot switch them off, even when you are asleep. It works with strong coordination with your brain. When you want to listen to something, your brain with the help of ears let you concentrate on that sound while ignoring the other sounds. Your brain then evaluate that what is the source of the sound. If ears are not functioning properly, your brain doesn’t get enough information to evaluate.
Taking our ears for granted is a common thing, lot of us do that. We do not take care of them; listen to loud music every other day, without realising its consequences. Once your hearing is damaged, you may never be able to hear again. That is why parents need to teach their children how to take care of their ears. Raise awareness about what can lead to various infections, hearing loss, the importance of ears in one’s life. Do not wait until it is too late to start taking care of your children’s ears.
How to protect children’s ears.
By loud noise:
Noise-induced hearing loss starts at an early age and grows, the damage done by noise is invisible, and permanent.
- Use the hearing protectors such as ear plugs on your children when exposed to loud noise and use them yourself so your children can realise that it is important. Teach your children to close their ears with fingers when suddenly exposed.
- Teach your children to avoid sitting near speakers at auditoriums and concerts, and its harmful effects.
- Always keep down the volume on headset, television, or car radio. Set a maximum limit of volume, which they can keep on such devices and be firm about this rule.
- Check the noise level in your children’s toys before buying.
- If you feel that your child is having trouble in hearing, visit a certified audiologist and have yours hearing and your children’s hearing tested.
It is most likely that your children develop an ear infection in future. According to studies 75% of children will have an ear infection at least one time by their third birthday. Since ear infections are so common among young children, it’s important for you to know their causes, symptoms, and cures to protect you children from them. Read below to know more.
An ear is divided in three main parts, the outer, middle, and inner ear. There is a tube that connects the middle ear to the back of the throat, it is called Eustachian tube. When your child is suffering from cold, cough and other allergies, Eustachian tube is swollen, leaving no space for ventilation. A fluid that drains out of the ear is trapped in the inner part, this allows germs to flourish and result in ear infection. Children are prone to ear infection because their Eustachian are not fully developed.
Earaches can be so painful that your children cannot decide what is paining. Parents have to look for the signs below to investigate further:
- Fluid draining from ear
- Feeling the pull at the ear
- Appetite loss
- Pain in the ear
Ear infection can be prevented, as the cold and flu is the major reason that cause ear infections, there are some ways to prevent it.
- Keep your children away from the ones with colds, flu, and sore throats, as these are contagious.
- Don’t let children share the toys that they generally put in their mouth with other children.
- Don’t let your children lie down with bottle, liquid from the bottle can flow back to the Eustachian tube, leading to an infection.
- Teach your child to cough or sneeze into a handkerchief, napkin or the crook of the elbow.
- Teach your children to wash hands often.
- Look for playgroup/daycares where there are 6 to 7 children in a batch. Studies have proved that group of fewer children experience less of such infections.
- Breastfeed your children for at least 12 months, it boosts the immune system of your children and protect them from such infections.
- Avoid using pacifiers (a toy with nipple to suck) Studies have proved that children who use pacifiers are more prone to middle ear infections.
- Avoid smoking in front of children, passive smoking irritates mucous membranes and damages tiny hairs in the middle ear resulting an infection.
- Take your children for regular vaccination as directed by your paediatrician, many vaccines like influenza and prevnar are known to reduce the cause of infections.
Swimmer’s Ear – a type of ear infection.
Swimmer’s Ear is an infection of the ear canal. If your children play or swim in bacteria-infested or poorly chlorinated water, they are more likely to have swimmer’s ear. When infected by swimmer’s ear you child will complain of ear pain, itchiness inside the ear, will feel like the ear is blocked and in extreme cases pus coming out of the ear.
Swimmer’s Ear prevention.
- Avoid using earplugs while swimming, it irritate children’s ear canal and cause infection.
- Teach children to tilt and shake their head to drain water from ears every time after swimming.
- Teach them to always shower after swimming and clean their ears nicely with soap.
- Blow dry the ear with a hair drier, use it at the lowest setting and hold it about a foot away from their ear.
- There are many solution drops available to prevent swimmers ears; you can get your children prescribed some by a good ENT specialist.
- Don’t let your children swim or play in dirty water.
The Earwax Myth:
People have a common misconception that earwax is a sign of dirty ears. Earwax is the yellow waxy substance that is produced in the ear canal and it is not bad or harmful. It is not dirt or gunk; it is supposed to be there. Cleaning the earwax doesn’t help in reducing the infection occurring instead it increases the chances of infection. The earwax actually protects the ear canal skin and provides protection from bacteria, fungi, insects and water. Earwax is only a problem when it becomes excessive, or hardens up. Or when it causes a little pain, discomfort and you will experience trouble in hearing, but this happens in rare cases.
Cleaning children’s ear.
You should clean children’s ear every time after bath with a soft washcloth around the outside of the ear. Do not try to clean the ear canal with ear buds (Q-tips). It pushes the earwax and dirt inside, which can damage the eardrum. Use the Q-tips to clean the outside and visible part only.
If your children have hardened earwax, have your children lie down with the affected ear upwards and add two to four drops of warm olive oil or mineral oil with a dropper in your children’s ear, let them be in that position for few minutes. The wax will come out when your child will sit up, clean it with a clean cloth or cotton.
See your doctor, an Ear – Nose – Throat (E.N.T.) specialist, if you notice any blood or puss coming out, when your child is in pain, trouble hearing, or if you see anything stuck inside the ear.
Teach your children how to take care of their ears, it will protect their hearing now and in the future.