Ear care

Online Q&A
February 2014

Q. How can I keep my child's ears clean?

A. The ear is a self-cleaning organ and does not require any active cleaning. The ear only needs to be cleaned from outside. No object or fluid should be inserted or instilled into the ears, unless prescribed by a health professional.

Q. Why does my child get pain in the ear?

A. Pain in the ear can be caused by problems such as:

  • impacted cerumen (wax) in the ear;
  • acute infection in the ear canal;
  • acute infection of the ear drum; or
  • because of fluid in the middle ear.

In order to identify the problem, your child should be taken for an ear check-up. Ear pain should not be ignored as it can lead to serious problems.

Q. How can I prevent ear infections in my child?

A. Most ear infections can be prevented by taking good care of our ears. Some important things to remember are:

  • do not let dirty water enter the ear;
  • do not slap a child, especially over the ears, as it can damage the ear drum, thereby encouraging infections;
  • ensure early diagnosis of ear infections by staying vigilant for problems like pain in the ear, decreased hearing and wetness in the ear; and
  • educate children about not inserting anything into the ear such as pencils, erasers, hair-pins etc.

Q. Can I use traditional/herbal remedies in the ear?

A. No! These may irritate the ear canal and the ear drum and cause infection.

Q. When should I take my child to see the doctor regarding ear problems?

A. If your child complains of:

  • pain in the ear;
  • discharge from the ear;
  • hearing loss;
  • improper speech development;
  • if your child does not understand what you say properly.

Consult a doctor, as soon as possible.

Q. How long can someone be around a loud noise before it becomes hazardous?

A. The degree of hearing hazard is related to both: the level of the noise as well as the duration of the exposure. It is better to protect against loud noise as soon as one is exposed to it. Ear protectors, such as well-fitted ear plugs, should be worn before entering a noisy area.

Q. I enjoy listening to loud music through ear/headphones. Will it harm my hearing ability?

A. The risk of hearing loss increases as sound is played at high intensity (volume) and for long durations. It has been shown that listening through earphones at 95% of maximum sound volume for 5 minutes (with most devices) continuously will damage hearing. To protect hearing, volume should be minimized and breaks should be taken while listening through ear/headphones.