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Ear - Congestion

Definition

  • Sudden onset of muffled hearing
  • Crackling or popping noises in the ear
  • A stuffy, full sensation in the ear
  • Usually no ear pain, except with air-travel type
  • Unusual complaint until after age 4 or 5 years

Causes

  • Blockage of ear tube (eustachian tube) during nose allergies, a cold or over-vigorous nose-blowing
  • Sudden increases in air pressure, which occur in descent from mountain driving or airplane travel
  • Middle ear fluid can be present with a resolving ear infection

See More Appropriate Topic (instead of this one) If

 

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information. For more information, click here.

Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D. Clinical content review provided by Senior Reviewer and Healthpoint Medical Network.
Last Review Date: 6/1/2011
Last Revised: 8/1/2011 2:57:50 PM
Content Set: Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker
Version Year: 2012
Copyright 1994-2012 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.

When To Call

Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If

  • You think your child needs to be seen
  • Earache
  • Possible foreign body in ear canal
  • Ear congestion lasts over 48 hours

Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If

  • You have other questions or concerns
  • Blocked ear wax suspected

Parent Care at Home If

  • Ear congestion (probably from blocked eustachian tube) and you don't think your child needs to be seen

 

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information. For more information, click here.

Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D. Clinical content review provided by Senior Reviewer and Healthpoint Medical Network.
Last Review Date: 6/1/2011
Last Revised: 8/1/2011 2:57:50 PM
Content Set: Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker
Version Year: 2012
Copyright 1994-2012 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.

Care Advice

  1. More Chewing and Swallowing: Swallow water or other fluid while the nose is pinched closed. (Reason: creates a vacuum in the nose that helps the Eustachian tube to open up.) After age 6, can also use chewing gum.
  2. Decongestant Nasal Spray (Age 12 years or older):
    • If chewing doesn't help after 1 or 2 hours, use a long-acting decongestant nasal spray. You can ask your pharmacist to recommend a brand.
    • Dosage: 1 spay per side, 2 times per day as needed.
    • Don't use more than 5 days. (Reason: rebound swelling)
    • An oral decongestant (e.g., pseudoephedrine) may help if the nasal spray is not available (See Dosage table).
  3. Antihistamines:
    • Nasal allergies can cause ear congestion.
    • If your child has hay fever or other allergies, give an oral antihistamine such as Benadryl (See Dosage table).
    • See Hay Fever topic for details.
  4. Expected Course: The symptoms usually clear within 2 days (48 hours) with treatment. It's safe for your child to swim.
  5. Prevention for Airplane/Mountain Travel:
    • Swallow during descent using a pacifier or fluids
    • Children over age 6 can chew on gum during descent
    • Yawning also can open the middle ear
  6. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Ear pain occurs
    • Ear congestion lasts over 48 hours
    • Your child becomes worse

And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms. 

To find a pediatrician, click here.

 

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information. For more information, click here.

Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D. Clinical content review provided by Senior Reviewer and Healthpoint Medical Network.
Last Review Date: 6/1/2011
Last Revised: 8/1/2011 2:57:50 PM
Content Set: Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker
Version Year: 2012
Copyright 1994-2012 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.

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