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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.