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"What causes daily earaches?"


My nine-year-old daughter's ears ache when she gets home from school in the afternoons. I used to think it was worse on windy days, but now I'm not so sure. She seems healthy otherwise. Should I take her to a doctor?


There are several causes of earaches in children and some of them do require medical evaluation. The doctors who will be well qualified to discuss this issue with you include your pediatrician. There are several causes of ear discomfort.

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A common one is a chronic ear effusion or eustachian tube dysfunction. This often occurs after a upper respiratory infection, where fluid collects and stays in the ear from some weeks or months. It generally does not require treatment unless the pain is severe or it impairs hearing. Another common cause is a buildup of wax in the ear. This creates a sensation of fullness and discomfort. It is important not to try to clean out the wax with cotton swabs as you can damage the ear. However, ear wax drops or cleaning by your doctor can be helpful. Finally, infections of the ear canal, called otitis externa or swimmer's ear, can cause discomfort. These generally respond to cleaning and medicated drops from your doctor. As always the diagnosis and the management of your child's particular concern will require a physical examination by your personal physician. Setting up an office visit with your pediatrician is advised.

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