3 February: Q&A with Mr John Fenwick

For the past three months my 22 month old daughter has constantly been getting ear infections and these seem to cause raging temperatures and I am worried that it may affect her hearing in the longer term. At its worst, she has some discharge from her ears and it is obviously painful as she gets very distressed. This happened last winter too and I would like to know if there are any treatments other than antibiotics which just don’t seem to solve this?

Mr John Fenwick, Consultant ENT Surgeon:

The most important thing to do is initially to stop all swimming. If your child is prone to sucking on a dummy, this must stop and be disposed of. Furthermore, discourage thumb sucking.

During sucking, the soft palate (roof of the mouth) pulls on the sinus bed and then pulls the thick mucus in the sinuses back towards the ear tubes. Fluid can then fill the middle ear and surround all the little bones in the ear. If this fluid cannot drain, it results in an increase of pressure and your child can feel pain.

The most appropriate form of treatment is to use half a percent of ephedrine in saline nose drops, these can be bought over the counter at any pharmacist. Apply five drops into each nostril three times a day, but if you can identify the side with the problem just put the drops into that nostril.

To put the drops into the nostrils needs two people. The child needs to be laid down on the floor with shoulders on the edge of a pillow with the nostrils looking up at the ceiling, then insert the drops.

One person must hold the child's head in that position for at least a minute whilst and after inserting the drops.

Find a treatment, test or scan available at:


Find a consultant

Use one or more of the options below to search for a consultant and link through to view their Spire profile.


Let us help you

fill out this form and we will get back to you:

Please select a hospital

We can call you

Please enter your details below and we will call you back.

What is the aim of your enquiry?

Please select a hospital

If we are unable to reach you by phone, please include your email address so that we can get in touch...

What's up Doc? is brought to you in association with

The material published on this page is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the professional medical advice of your doctor or other health care professional.

© Spire Healthcare Group plc (2016)