If you feel as though your child has no sooner gotten rid of one ear infection before another develops, you're not alone -- due to a child's smaller ear structure and developing immune system, children are much more likely than adults to develop chronic or frequent ear infections. However, these repetitive ear infections could cause missed school (and missed work for you), as well as compromise your child's language skills if hearing is affected. What should you do to treat these ear infections without subjecting your child to surgery? Here are some high-tech options and temporary palliative treatments that can restore your child's health quickly.
Should chronic ear infections be surgically treated?
You may feel reluctant to have your child undergo surgery -- including general anesthesia and pain medication -- for a condition that is generally treatable with heavy-duty antibiotics. However, over time these antibiotics may become less effective, requiring even heavier dosages that can lead to stomach discomfort and antibiotic-resistant illnesses. There are now some surgical options that can minimize the amount of pain your child will feel with surgery, helping essentially eliminate ear infections for your child.
By undergoing laser ear or adenoid surgery rather than traditional surgery, your child will enjoy a short, relatively pain-free recovery period. Because the ear canal has been reshaped with a laser (rather than with a scalpel and tiny stitches), bleeding and scarring will be minimal, and your child won't be as tempted to rub or pull at his or her ears, potentially damaging the delicate sutures. In other cases, removal and cauterization of your child's tonsils or adenoids with a laser may be what is needed to prevent these extraneous body parts from serving as microbe-soaked sponges.
What can you do to help relieve your child's discomfort before surgery is necessary?
For those who aren't comfortable subjecting their child to even moderate anesthesia until an older age, there are a few things you can do to help relieve the congestion, pain, and other unpleasant symptoms your child may be suffering. You may also opt for these treatments as a temporary measure if your insurance restrictions or scheduling difficulties won't allow surgery to be performed for a few weeks or months.
Certain essential oils, like menthol and peppermint, can help open up the sinus cavities, potentially improving drainage of backed-up fluid within the inner and middle ear. Chiropractic treatment or sinus massage can also help improve the flow of fluid within the ear canal, reducing buildup and painful pressure. For more information, talk to a professional like Eastern Carolina Ear Nose & Throat-Head.