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Dr Ramesh Iyer an­swers all your child­care queries

I have re­cently no­ticed my nine-mon­thold son tug­ging his left ear. More­over, he’s be­com­ing in­creas­ingly ir­ri­ta­ble and cranky, and has he has also be­come ex­tremely cranky and is fussy when I try to nurse him. I think the change in weather has also taken a toll on him be­cause he’s suf­fer­ing from a bad cold as well. This non-stop tug­ging has left his ear­lobe red and sen­si­tive. He can­not stop cry­ing. He calms down when I pick him up but the mo­ment I put him down, the cry­ing starts all over. This has af­fected his sleep­ing pat­tern. I don’t know what’s caused this sud­den change. Is it just the cold or some­thing se­ri­ous? Please ad­vice. ANJALI DESHMUKH, MUM­BAI Dear Anjali, Thank you for writ­ing in and ex­press­ing your par­tic­u­lar con­cern. Ex­ces­sive or in­con­solable cry­ing is a com­mon prob­lem in in­fants, the rea­sons be­ing: Hunger Dis­com­fort due to wet nap­pies or soiled di­a­pers Pain that’s usu­ally due to ab­dom­i­nal colic or stom­ach ache due to gas, tor­sion of testis or in­tus­sus­cep­tion. In your case, ear ache.

Now regarding your son’s par­tic­u­lar con­di­tion, let me try to ex­plain what I think might be the prob­lem. All of us have a tube which con­nects the Na­sophar­ynx (part of our throat) to the mid­dle ear called the Eus­tachian tube or sim­ply the E tube. In an adult this tube is long and shaped like an ‘S’. How­ever, in in­fants, the tube is short and straight. Now, if a child suf­fers from a cold or throat in­fec­tion, some amount of the germs, in­fec­tion or mu­cous is likely to travel to the E tube. This then re­sults in block­age, one of the symp­toms be­ing a ear ache. It’s only nat­u­ral that your child will tug at the prob­lem area. How­ever, pulling on the ear­lobe can opens up the E tube, re­liev­ing the block­age and re­duc­ing the pain. Your son’s con­stant tug­ging at his ear, is his way of eas­ing his dis­com­fort.

How­ever, if the pain per­sists, it could lead to a more com­pli­cated mid­dle ear in­fec­tion or Acute Sup­po­ra­tive Ot­tis Me­dia (ASOM). This is quite a se­ri­ous is­sue as it could re­sult in deaf­ness or the in­fec­tion spread­ing to the brain. Please visit your pae­di­a­tri­cian or an ENT doc­tor to rule out any pos­si­ble sever­ity. The doc­tor will be able to con­firm the di­ag­no­sis and treat him ac­cord­ingly.

Dr Ramesh. S. Iyer is the Head of Neona­tol­ogy and Pe­di­atrics Depart­ment at Cur­rae Gy­naec IVF Birthing Hospi­tal with over 18 years of ex­pe­ri­ence in han­dling crit­i­cal and very low birth weight babies, as well as babies on ven­ti­la­tion. An alum­nus of LTMMC Mum­bai, where he pur­sued his MBBS, he pur­sued his P. G. Diploma in Child Health from JJ group of hos­pi­tals and a Masters’ de­gree from Grant med­i­cal col­lege, Mum­bai.

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