Joseph Donzelli, MD
"Ear infections are the most predictably painful thing most kids will undergo, health-wise," says Dr. Joseph Donzelli, an otolaryngologist at Midwest ENT Consultants in Naperville.
"It's just a fact of life when you have a baby or toddler."
Think about the thickest snot you've ever blown out of your nose.
That's what gets stuck in kids' ear canals, and it's not going anywhere on its own.
Antibiotics usually do the trick, but if fluid remains in the ear past 12 weeks, Donzelli
says, a specialist will likely recommend that you have the ear manually drained.
It's important to keep ears clean, but especially with kids, you should never stick anything in a child's ear, Donzelli
"It doesn't take much for child to turn their head and just like that, you can puncture an eardrum.
Use a washcloth or cotton ball instead, and only go after what you can see by casually looking at the ear.
If it's way in there, it should stay in there, Donzelli
And it's worse for kids, Donzelli
says, whose ears don't tolerate the pressure change as well as those of adults.
If your child has a cold or allergies, try a nasal decongestant before boarding, or a nasal steroid spray a few days before the trip, to help open up the nasal passages.
Once on board, chewing gum can help, or if your child is too young (experts say gum poses a serious choking hazards to kids under four), have them take little sips of water from a bottle starting about 30-45 minutes before landing.
suck-swallow motion will keep the eustachian tube, the ear's pressure regulator, from closing and keep a lid on painful ear-popping.
There's not a whole lot you can do about an earache
Earaches are the classic "it's going to get worse before it gets better" situation.
Pain relievers like Motrin or Tylenol can give some relief, but once your child gets to the point of extreme pain, there's not a whole lot you can do, Donzelli
"At that point, the only thing that's going to stop the pain is if the eardrum ruptures.
Anecdotal remedies like a warm washcloth or compress are just that - anecdotal remedies - though they certainly won't hurt.
says position doesn't make a big difference, either.