Childhood Diseases

Posted by: Purple | 2011/03/02


Ear infections in older children


My son is 7 and once again has an ear infection.
We put grommets in when he was 20 months old as he had four ear infections so close together I think it was one infection that just never cleared.
They came out after about 2 years and his ears were fine until he was 5, when he had constant ear infections again and we put in another set of grommets. This time however we were prescribed a nasal spray and cortisone in addition to the antibiotics.

His grommets are out of his ears but I can see them in the canal working their way out and I''m sure they will pop out in the next few days.

I was rather hoping that by this age, and once these grommets came out that he wouldn''t be so prone to ear infections as I thought his eustachian tube would have attained its adult shape by now (or at least be less flat than when he was younger).

Is he going to be someone who struggles with his ears for the rest of his life?
He had a cold last week and just like when he was little, a cold meant immediate ear infection.

It''s not just glue ear where his hearing gets dull, he wakes screaming in agony during the night. Warm face cloths don''t help at all, and as he is getting bigger panado is less effective (I give him the melt tabs).

We don''t smoke, he was breastfed (for an extended period) and just doesn''t have the risk factors usually associated with ear infections.

He is on an antiboitic and cortisone and is taking ponstan for the pain. Today is his second day off school as he is still looking miserable (far worse than he used to when little).

We''ve had his hearing tested and when he doesn''t have an ear infection its normal. He''s also very verbal and reading well and doing very well at school so thankfully we haven''t had hearing problems from his numerous ear infections (I don''t know anyone else who has had as many as us).

Should I just immediately have another set of grommets put in (clearly nothing else works) or see if he gets another infection (i.e it just continues) in a months time? I''m not prepared to wait for him to have 4 infections in 6 months - I know what solves the problem and am just tired of having to see him in agony all the time.

Will he eventually grow out of this or is it going to be a life time of ear issues?
What I''m really panicking about is when we get landed with the NHI and can no longer request effective treatment but will be stuck with 3 GP visits per year - so bad luck if you need real help.

Expert's Reply



Good question. This is worrying and you are correct,your son should have grown out of his ear problems by now. It is very unusual for euestachian tube dysfunction to continue so long. He may have another problem causing his repetated ear infections such as a condition called the immotile cilia syndome. He does need to be seen by an ENT specialist again especially if he has earache. It seems to be time for a second opinion here. Your son should be carefully examined and tested to try to find the reason why a 5 year old is still having such ear problems.

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user comments


Posted by: Purple | 2011/03/03

Thanks BMJ. Glad to hear that resolved things.

I" m going to do as the pead says and get a second opinion on his ears. I''m very concerned. I like our ENT but maybe we need to see someone different.

Reply to Purple
Posted by: BMJ | 2011/03/02

Dear Purple, my 7y old has had 5 sets of grommets. The moment they are out he gets blocked ears and any slight cold develops into an ear infection. Grommets and adenoids out. Was taking zyrtec and nasal cortisone spray. In the end my ENT suggested that we take out his tonsils although there was never a throat problem - just ears and sometimes nose.. That was just under a year ago. He has not had a cold or ear infection since. I cant explain it - neither can my ENT as his throat was not the problem, but for some reason his ears are now problem free.

The tonsil op was not a joke - it was painful, but I am glad we did it.

Good luck

Reply to BMJ
Posted by: Purple | 2011/03/02

Hi Nikki,

thanks for that. We''ll no doubt be at the ENT soon again so I''ll discuss that option with him (he is full of info and only too happy to explain things whichis great).
He had adenoids removed when we did grommets last time as taht can be a contributing factor to ear infections.

I breastfed for around 2 years. He did have some formula in that time but even completely formula fed babies don''t seem to suffer from ear infections the way he does. I also never propped him wth a bottle I always held him while he drank it, so formula should not have dripped into his ears which can be a problem with bottle feeding.

I''ve never had an ear infection in my whole life, I have just been told they''re really painful and he certainly screams the house down.

Reply to Purple
Posted by: Nikki | 2011/03/02

Hi Purple,

I had bad ear infections as a child and went to the ENT. I had my nose cauterized and the infections cleared up over night. I no longer had any pain and was like a new person.

Hope you come right.

PS. How long did you breast feed for?

Reply to Nikki

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