Ear infections, such as glue ear, are common in toddlers and small children – but even babies can be prone. Look out for these warning signs. By Sister Lilian
While middle ear infection is an acute condition with symptoms of redness, pain, swelling, crying that is higher pitched than normal and fever, and mostly without a discharge, glue ear is medically described as middle ear infection with a discharge.
It seldom resolves as quickly as most acute middle ear infections do. The discharge may be watery or thick and sticky. The fluid will only be discharged through the outer ear if there is a hole in the tympanic membrane or eardrum.
Causes of glue ear
Ear infections in babies are frequently secondary to teething, in which case appropriate treatment can prevent recurrence and associated glue ear.
Both cow’s milk and soya-based formula have high allergy potential and one of the common manifestations is excess mucus. This can accumulate in the ears and lead to earache, glue ear and infection.
Symptoms of glue ear
- If a cold or upper respiratory congestion persists for more than two weeks, it may be associated with glue ear.
- Thick yellow-green discharge from your baby’s nose and/or eyes may extend to the ears.
- Your baby’s ear may discharge fluid, which can be watery or thick.
- Your baby may not want to lie on his back, because fluid collects in the Eustachian tube and cannot drain, pressing uncomfortably on the eardrum.
- Your baby’s hearing may seem impaired or his reaction to sounds inappropriate.
- He may ignore calling or commands.
- His speech development may be slower than expected.
Treating glue ear
- If you are bottle feeding, change your baby to an allergy formula or one less problematic to remove a common trigger of excess mucus.
- Grain products like baby cereals are common mucus triggers, as are dairy products like yoghurt and cheese. Reduce or avoid their intake.
- Place a covered hot-water bottle against the affected side to loosen thick secretions. It should not be too hot, to avoid burns.
- Earache may improve during the day due to being in an upright position, but may recur at night. Prop yourself up against pillows or in a rocking chair with your baby sleeping on your lap, as this ensures better fluid drainage and less pain.
- Homeopathic remedies Otitis drops or Chamomilla D6 can be taken orally for earache and ear infection. The homeopathic remedy Buso drops (taken orally) can treat chronic fluid build-up in the ears. Homeopathic Pulsatilla can be used for yellow-green discharge with a blocked nose.
- Clear, frothy, profuse, watery mucus may respond well to the tissue salt remedy Nat mur. If the mucus is thick, white to grey and sluggish, try the tissue salt remedy Kali mur. For yellow, sticky or slimy mucus, use the tissue salt remedy Kali sulph. Green, lumpy mucus may respond well to the tissue salt remedy Calc sulph.
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