When she has a cold, my 5-y-o daughter often suffers temporary hearing loss. Her ears don’t get infected, there’s no pain or fever — she just can’t hear very well, sometimes for weeks. The reason is that the lining of her eustachian tubes becomes swollen, obstructing them, and then fluid leaks out of the walls of the middle ear, flooding it and putting a damper on her audio. These days Swedish doctors try to avoid putting drainage pipes through kids’ ear drums. Instead the excellent Dr. Claes Wibom (who’s now treating the fourth generation of my family) recommended that I buy my daughter a nose balloon.
Nose balloon. It’s a balloon fitted with a spherical nozzle so you can inflate it with your nostrils. A beautifully simple treatment.
The balloon helps a kid put air pressure on their eustachian tubes from the pharynx, which opens them and helps keep the middle ear drained. Us grownups do the same thing easily by just closing our eyes, holding our noses and “pushing”, like on air trips or while driving in mountains or scuba diving. But try to explain that push to a little kid!
My daughter uses the balloon with great gusto mornings and nights, and often she comments on the wind she then hears blowing inside her ears. That’s when an obstructed tube opens and admits air into her middle ear.
(Now, don’t confuse this with ear candles. That’s just woo.)