Abdominal Pain - Female
Abdominal Pain - Male
Acne
Animal or Human Bite
Antibiotics: When Do They Help
Arm Injury
Arm Pain
Asthma Attack
Athlete's Foot
Back Pain
Bed Bug Bite
Bee or Yellow Jacket Sting
Blisters
Bottle-Feeding Formula Questions
Breast-Feeding Questions
Bruise
Burn
Chest Pain
Chickenpox
Circumcision Problems
Colds
Constipation
Cough
Coughs: Meds or Home Remedies
Cracked or Dry Skin
Cradle Cap
Croup
Crying Baby - Before 3 Months Old
Crying Child - 3 Months and Older
Cut, Scrape, or Bruise
Diaper Rash
Diarrhea
Diarrhea Diseases From Travel
Dizziness
Drinking Fluids - Decreased
Dry Skin
Ear - Congestion
Ear - Discharge
Ear - Injury
Ear - Pulling At or Rubbing
Ear - Swimmer's
Ear Infection Questions
Earache
Earwax Buildup
Ebola Exposure
Eczema
Emergency Symptoms Not to Miss
Eye - Allergy
Eye - Foreign Body or Object
Eye - Injury
Eye - Pus or Discharge
Eye - Red Without Pus
Eye - Swelling
Fever
Fever - How to Take the Temperature
Fever - Myths Versus Facts
Fifth Disease
Finger Injury
Fire Ant Sting
Flu
Fluid Intake Decreased
Food Allergy
Foreskin Care Questions
Frostbite
Genital Injury - Female
Genital Injury - Male
Hair Loss
Hand-Foot-And-Mouth Disease HFMD
Hay Fever
Head Injury
Headache
Heat Exposure and Reactions
Heat Rash
Hives
Human or Animal Bite
Immunization Reactions
Impetigo - Infected Sores
Infection Exposure Questions
Influenza - Seasonal
Influenza Exposure
Insect Bite
Jaundiced Newborn
Jellyfish Sting
Leg Injury
Leg Pain
Lice - Head
Lymph Nodes - Swollen
Medication - Refusal to Take
Mental Health Problems
Molluscum
Mosquito Bite
Mosquito-Borne Diseases from Travel
Motion Sickness
Mouth Injury
Mouth Ulcers
Neck Pain or Stiffness
Newborn Appearance Questions
Newborn Illness - How to Recognize
Newborn Rashes and Birthmarks
Newborn Reflexes and Behavior
Nose Allergy Hay Fever
Nose Injury
Nosebleed
Penis-Scrotum Symptoms
Pinworms
Poison Ivy - Oak - Sumac
Puncture Wound
Rash or Redness - Localized
Rash or Redness - Widespread
Reflux Spitting Up
Ringworm
Roseola
Scabies
Scrape
Sinus Pain or Congestion
Skin Foreign Body or Object
Skin Injury
Skin Lump
Sliver or Splinter
Sore Throat
Spider Bite
Spitting Up - Reflux
Stomach Pain - Female
Stomach Pain - Male
Stools - Blood In
Stools - Unusual Color
Strep Throat Exposure
Strep Throat Infection
Sty
Sunburn
Suture Questions
Swallowed Foreign Body or Object
Swallowed Harmless Substance
Swimmer's Itch - Lakes and Oceans
Tear Duct - Blocked
Teething
Thrush
Tick Bite
Toe Injury
Toenail - Ingrown
Tooth Injury
Toothache
Umbilical Cord Symptoms
Urinary Tract Infection - Female
Urination Pain - Female
Urination Pain - Male
Vaginal Symptoms
Vomiting With Diarrhea
Vomiting Without Diarrhea
Warts
Wheezing Other Than Asthma
Wound Infection

Resources

Is Your Child Sick?TM


Ear - Congestion

Is this your child's symptom?

  • Sudden onset of a stuffy or plugged up feeling in the ear
  • Crackling or popping noise in the ear
  • Hearing is often muffled
  • No ear pain, except with air-travel type
  • Rare complaint before age 4 or 5 years

If NOT, try one of these:


Causes of Ear Congestion

  • Common Cold. A viral infection of the nose is the most common cause. The nasal congestion also blocks the ear tube (eustachian tube). The ear tube normally keeps air in the middle ear.
  • Ear Infection. Middle ear pus can also cause muffled hearing on that side. This commonly happens with an ear infection.
  • Middle Ear Fluid. Fluid may remain in the middle ear after the infection is cleared up. It can last for months. The main symptoms are popping and crackling noises in the ear.
  • Blowing the Nose. Blowing too hard can force secretions into the ear tube.
  • Allergic Rhinitis. Hay fever is an allergic reaction to pollens. It causes nasal congestion, clear drainage and sneezing. It also can block the ear tube and back up secretions in the ear.
  • Airplane Ear. If the ear tube is blocked, sudden increases in air pressure can cause the eardrum to stretch. The main symptom is ear pain. Sometimes, it just causes congestion. It usually starts when coming down for a landing. It can also occur during mountain driving.

When to Call for Ear - Congestion

Call Doctor Within 24 Hours

  • You think your child needs to be seen
  • Earache
  • Could be a foreign body in the ear canal
  • Ear congestion lasts more than 48 hours

Call Doctor During Office Hours

  • Could be blocked with ear wax
  • You have other questions or concerns

Self Care at Home

  • Ear congestion most likely from blocked ear tube

Call Doctor Within 24 Hours

  • You think your child needs to be seen
  • Earache
  • Could be a foreign body in the ear canal
  • Ear congestion lasts more than 48 hours

Call Doctor During Office Hours

  • Could be blocked with ear wax
  • You have other questions or concerns

Self Care at Home

  • Ear congestion most likely from blocked ear tube

Care Advice for Ear Congestion

  1. What You Should Know About Ear Congestion:
    • Most often, this is from a blocked ear tube (eustachian tube). This tube normally drains the space behind the eardrum.
    • It is usually not caused by an ear infection.
    • Here is some care advice that should help.
  2. Swallow and Chew More:
    • Swallow water or other fluid while the nose is pinched closed. Reason: Makes a vacuum in the nose that helps the ear tube open up.
    • After age 6, can also use chewing gum.
  3. Decongestant Nose Spray (Age 12 years or Older):
    • If chewing doesn't help after 1 or 2 hours, use a long-acting decongestant nose spray. An example is Afrin.
    • Dose: 1 spay per side, 2 times per day as needed.
    • Don't use for more than 3 days. Reason: Can cause rebound swelling in the nose.
    • Decongestants given by mouth (such as Sudafed) are another choice. They can also open a stuffy nose and ears. Side effects: They may make a person feel nervous or dizzy. Follow the package directions.
  4. Allergy Medicines:
    • Nose allergies can cause ear stuffiness.
    • If your child has hay fever or other allergies, give an allergy medicine. An example is Benadryl.
    • See the Nose Allergy care guide for other advice.
  5. What to Expect:
    • The symptoms most often clear within 2 days (48 hours) with treatment.
    • It's safe for your child to swim or fly.
  6. Prevention During Air or Mountain Travel:
    • It's safe to fly when your child has a cold.
    • Most symptoms happen when the airplane is coming down in altitude. This is the descent of the plane during the 15 minutes before landing.
    • Keep your child awake during takeoff and descent.
    • Swallow during descent using fluids or a pacifier.
    • Age over 6: Can chew gum during descent.
    • Yawning during descent also can open the middle ear.
    • Drink lots of fluids throughout the flight. This will prevent the nasal secretions from drying out.
  7. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Ear pain occurs
    • Ear congestion lasts more than 48 hours
    • You think your child needs to be seen
    • Your child becomes worse

And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the 'Call Your Doctor' symptoms.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.


Copyright 1994-2017 Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC. All rights reserved.

Select from over 100 symptoms to learn about managing your child's illness.