Guest post by Holly Sanford, RN
Many parents find themselves asking, "can I use a nasal aspirator in the ear?" If you are asking this question, you are not alone! Many parents find themselves wondering how to remove water, earwax, debris, etc., from their child’s ear especially in the summertime when activity levels peak.
Because the ear is a delicate organ and can easily be damaged, a nasal aspirator should never be used in the ears.
Can I use a nasal aspirator in the ear?
Fortunately there are safe methods to relieve discomfort from obstruction related complications.
Because children often play in the water during the summer, you may notice an increase in complaints that those little ears have some water stuck inside. Smaller children are particularly prone to retaining fluid in their ears because they may not be able to fully articulate how their ears feel or know how to get the water out. Help your child learn post water routine ear care. Provide instructions to tilt the head side to side, which will allow water to naturally drain out of the ears. When the ear is facing down, gently pull on the earlobe in a few different directions to ensure all the water has escaped. Some children may benefit from wearing earplugs or swim caps in the water, especially if the child is at risk for swimmer’s ear.
There is a misconception that earwax needs to be routinely cleaned out of the ears. Because earwax protects the inner ear from bacteria, it is not recommended to regularly remove it from children’s ears. If the earwax is visible, the preferred removal method is to wipe the outer ear with a soft, damp cloth after a bath since the steam softens the wax. Q-tips are generally not recommended for children, especially for smaller children due to the risk of perforating the eardrum. Q-tips and similarly shaped objects such as pencils result in many urgent medical visits every year. If possible, try not to clean your ears in front of small children who may imitate the behavior using Q-tips or other potentially dangerous objects to their ears. If your child has excessive earwax, consult with your provider to ensure safe treatment recommendations. The provider may remove it with a small instrument designed for extracting earwax, instruct you to use ear drops to help break down the wax, or teach you how to occasionally and safely insert a Q-tip if the child is over 1 year of age.
We all know how curious babies and small children can be. Sometimes a little bead or tiny object makes its way into the ear with those exploring little hands. Never remove an object from your child’s ear. Notify a medical provider to safely remove the object and assess the ear for damage. Additionally, if your child is experiencing redness, itching, pain, drainage, loss of hearing, etc., please contact your provider to further evaluate if trauma or infection is present in the ear.
Although the summer months may pose extra challenges when it comes to children’s ears, it is a great opportunity to educate your child on safe ear care! We hope that we have answered your question of "can I use a nasal aspirator in the ear?" and provided you with some great alternative solutions.
Holly Sanford is a mother and a pediatric nurse of 9 years with a lifelong passion for helping children and their families. In her free time, she loves cooking new recipes, traveling to unique places and staying active with her family.