Can ear wax cause intense ear pain? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 03-19-2007, 12:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Okay, so, my 5yo, who has had I think maybe one ear infection in his life ever, woke up late Saturday night in tears from severe ear pain. He was clutching his ear, kept bursting into tears -- it was heartbreaking. So my DH turned the hot shower on in the bathroom with the door closed and sat with him in there for 30-45 minutes or so to give him a "steam treatment" in case part of the problem was bad congestion. We also gave him Motrin for the pain. (Please do not give me a hard time about this; my kid was in severe pain, and he didn't have a fever anyway.)

So I of course am thinking, "Hmm, this seems like an ear infection." But then he woke up the next day and his ear only hurt "a little bit" and now today it doesn't seem to hurt at all. My personal experience with severe ear infections (the kind that cause horrible, piercing pain) is that they do not clear up that quickly. But then DH noticed that Zeke had a lot of crusty, brown, waxy discharge outside the "bad" ear. Could the pain have been caused by wax buildup?! And if so, would it discharge on its own like that? This is just weird to me, because I've never had a wax problem in my ears.

If it was wax, is there anything we can do to prevent this or is it just a normal thing that happens sometimes or what?
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#2 of 9 Old 03-19-2007, 12:49 PM
 
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Too bad he did not stick him under the shower and let that very warm water run INTO the ear. It drains the liquid or wax. Works most of the time but not all the time. We take the shower head and put it right up against our ear every time we shower and get the wax out and we've never had any ear problem. After the shower you have to make sure the water drains out or you can dry it out. But we also wear a hat every time we go outside and it's windy or cold. Like lower then 60 degrees.

The other thing you can do is use the water pick with very warm water. Try it on yourself first so you know how hot and how high to turn it.

Then you can put some ear oil (garlic herbal from hfs) into the ear to help it feel better.

If you've done all that, and it bothers him next time, massage it between your front and middle finger, from the hairline down to help it drain. Usually a gentle massage for a few minutes takes care of it. The child has to be sitting up.


I bet it was some fluid that got caught in there and worked its way back out. That is very painful BUT it is NOT an ear infection. Of course your ped won't hesitate one second and prescribe abx even if it looks a wee bit red to him.
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#3 of 9 Old 03-19-2007, 12:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Interesting -- my DH generally washes the kids' hair by picking them up, holding them upside down, and swishing their heads through the water (it's a Daddy thing ) but I don't think he's done it for a while now (maybe a few weeks?) so maybe I should tell him to start doing it again!

And, that day, we had been at the St. Patrick's Day parade, and it was windy and about 25 degrees. Zeke was wearing a close-fitting hood, but I still wonder if the wind didn't affect his ears. Maybe earmuffs next time.

And actually, our ped. is pretty wary about prescribing abx. She told us once that she appreciates that we are reluctant to do antibiotics, because she gets so many parents who march into her office and demand abx for every little sniffle. :
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#4 of 9 Old 03-19-2007, 02:08 PM
 
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Originally Posted by JanB View Post
My personal experience with severe ear infections (the kind that cause horrible, piercing pain) is that they do not clear up that quickly. But then DH noticed that Zeke had a lot of crusty, brown, waxy discharge outside the "bad" ear.
This sounds exactly like a ruptured eardrum. The pain would be relieved immediately since it is caused by pressure on the eardrum. You might want confirmation from your doc, but if there is a possibility it is a rupture, do NOT put anything in his ear, no oil or water! It takes a few weeks to heal and you can't really hear through the affected ear until it does.
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#5 of 9 Old 03-19-2007, 02:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hm, thanks for the info -- no worries, we are not big proponents of sticking stuff in our kids' ears. (I mean, apart from water naturally swishing in there during bathtime, which I may avoid for the time being.)

If it were bad enough to cause a rupture, wouldn't he have been complaining of the pain for longer, though? The timeline here is that he was acting completely fine all day long, no signs of illness whatsoever, went to bed around 9 PM, woke up at 11 PM complaining of severe ear pain, finally fell back asleep around midnight, 12:30ish, and then got up the next day saying that his ear was basically okay.
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#6 of 9 Old 03-19-2007, 02:19 PM
 
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I'm not sure, but it seems plausible to me.
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#7 of 9 Old 03-19-2007, 03:00 PM
 
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I have to second the idea that it could be a burst eardrum. I am a SCUBA diver and have burst my ear drum a few times. IT is a very intense (make you sick to your stomach, screaming pain), but goes away with in the hour, with just an aching pain for several days, and you can not hear out of that ear for about 2 weeks as it heals. A warm rice pack on the side of my face and ear seems to help.

It could also be sinus pain. I am sure I had this earlier this week. I had very bad ear pain that lasted for several hours. I took a very hot shower and used a rice pack, but niether of them worked, and I finally took some sinus meds and it went away within an hour.

HTH

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#8 of 9 Old 03-19-2007, 03:05 PM
 
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I have had 1 ei in my life and it caused pain for 6 hours.

A few weeks ago I noticed my youngest dd had way more wax than usual. It was crusty but there was also gooey stuff, then it was followed by stuff that looked like wadded up paper(but it wasn't). I took her in and my dr checked. He said that she had burst it but it was healing and there was no abundance of wax left. Not once did she complain about her ear hurting, acting different or anything. She said she heard things fine, though thinking back that may have been the ear that the audiologists said they couldn't get a good reading from due to wax(this was 2 years ago though).
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#9 of 9 Old 03-19-2007, 03:30 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mavery View Post
This sounds exactly like a ruptured eardrum. The pain would be relieved immediately since it is caused by pressure on the eardrum. You might want confirmation from your doc, but if there is a possibility it is a rupture, do NOT put anything in his ear, no oil or water! It takes a few weeks to heal and you can't really hear through the affected ear until it does.
Yes, it could have been that his ear drum ruptured for whatever reason. See if he can hear out of the ear?

If that was the case, the ear drum will seal up quickly again. Sometimes even over night. Especially in a child.


Quote:
Originally Posted by JanB View Post
If it were bad enough to cause a rupture, wouldn't he have been complaining of the pain for longer, though? The timeline here is that he was acting completely fine all day long, no signs of illness whatsoever, went to bed around 9 PM, woke up at 11 PM complaining of severe ear pain, finally fell back asleep around midnight, 12:30ish, and then got up the next day saying that his ear was basically okay.
Could have come out naturally or through a busted ear drum. Either way it resolved itself as most sudden ear problems do.


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Originally Posted by Jessmcg View Post
.. ear drum.. is a very intense (make you sick to your stomach, screaming pain), but goes away with in the hour,....
and you can not hear out of that ear for about 2 weeks as it heals.
Not so in kids. It generally heals much faster the younger the person.




Wearing a hat on a windy day can never hurt.

I suspect that the wind was the culprit that caused the problem. The wind blew some fluid from the Eustachian tube into his inner ear and when it could not drain, it filled up more and more and eventually caused the intense pain. When the fluid finally drained out it brought some wax along with it.

I suspect the hot steamy bathroom with daddy (and the Motrin for pain) started the healing process and it continued when he fell asleep and was laying on his side. I seriously doubt that the ear drum ruptured but it actually doesn't matter as long as he is doing better. JMO.

Nature has a way of taking care of things (even without Motrin).
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