Clinical Reference Systems: Pediatric Advisor 10.0
If your child has ear congestion, he will probably feel:
- a sudden onset of muffled hearing
- crackling or popping noises in the ear
- a stuffy, full sensation in the ear
- no ear pain except in cases related to airplane travel.
This type of ear congestion usually comes and goes.
Earwax Problems (blocking the ear canal)
The most common cause of ear congestion is fluid in the
middle ear due to intermittent eustachian tube blockage by a
cold, hay fever, or over-vigorous nose blowing. Sudden
increases in barometric pressure, which occur in descent
from mountain driving or airplane travel, also cause ear
Have your child chew gum, yawn frequently, and swallow
while the nose is pinched closed. If he could have
water in the ear canal from a recent shower or swim,
help drain it with gravity by turning the side of the
head down and gently pulling the earlobe in different
directions. If he has hay fever he should also take his
antihistamine medication. If your child is in pain,
give acetaminophen or ibuprofen. It's OK for your child
- Prevention of ear congestion due to altitude change
Have your child repeatedly "pop" the ears by yawning or
swallowing during the typical 30 to 60 minutes of
descent in an airplane. If this fails, your child
should try to blow his nose against closed nostrils. A
baby can be given water to drink or a pacifier to suck
on. The child should not sleep during descent.
Children with recurrent problems should take an oral
antihistamine and use a long-acting decongestant nasal
spray 1 hour before travel.
If severe pain occurs despite these precautions, ask the
flight attendant for a hot towel to place tightly over
the opening of the ear (the heat will expand the air in
the middle ear and relieve the negative pressure on the
CALL YOUR CHILD'S PHYSICIAN DURING OFFICE HOURS IF:
- The ear congestion lasts more than 2 days.
- Ear pain develops.
- You have other concerns or questions.