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Parenting

The Dos and Don’ts of Cleaning Your Child’s Ears

2:00

True story. When I was a child, my mother was somewhat obsessed about earwax; specifically, she did not like to see earwax in my ears. Ever.

In order to make sure that my ears were clear of any nasty wax, she would use a bobby pin (remember those?) and gently insert it down into my ear and scape out any brownish gooey stuff. That would be followed up with a Q-Tip to make sure all substances were gone. It didn’t take many accidental pokes to get me to sit as still as possible.

I don’t know if there is any connection, but I have tinnitus and have had it for years.

Don’t ever stick anything into your child’s ear. That’s not just my opinion; it’s a warning from The American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. The ear, nose and throat organization recently released new guidelines for the public.

It’s perfectly all right to wipe the outside of the ear with a washcloth. But it's important to not use a cotton swab, a finger, or anything else (such as a bobby pin!) to poke inside the ear because of the risk of damaging the delicate ear canal and eardrum, or packing the wax in even further, which could cause infection.

What is earwax and why do we have it? Earwax is made in the outer ear canal, the area between the fleshy part of the ear on the outside of the head and the middle ear. The medical term for earwax is Cerumen.

Earwax has many important functions. It helps protect the eardrum and ear canal by providing a waterproof lining for the ear canal, helping to keep it dry and preventing germs from causing infection. It also traps dirt, dust, and other particles, keeping them from injuring or irritating the eardrum.

In most cases, nothing needs to be done to remove earwax from kids' ears; regular bathing is enough to keep it at healthy levels.

If earwax ever does need to be removed, let a doctor do it. There are only a few reasons earwax should be removed; it’s causing pain or discomfort, or hearing loss. That’s about it.

The academy’s updated list consists of what to do and what to avoid when it comes to dealing with earwax:

DON’T over-clean your ears. It may irritate the ear canal, cause infection, and even increase impacted wax.

DON’T put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear. Cotton swabs, hair pins, car keys, toothpicks — all can cause injury to the delicate ear canal, including a cut, perforation of the eardrum, or a dislocation of the tiny bones in the ear that enable hearing. Injury can lead to hearing loss, dizziness, ringing in the ear and other problems.

DON’T use ear candles. “Candling” is an alternative health fad purported to help with everything from earwax to cancer, but doctors say there is no evidence to back up any of those claims. Candling does not remove impacted earwax, and it can cause serious damage to the ear canal and eardrum.

DO seek medical help if you have symptoms of hearing loss, ear fullness and ear pain.

DO ask your doctor about home remedies for treating earwax impaction. But first, be sure you don’t have a medical or ear condition that could make some options unsafe.

DO seek medical attention if you experience ear pain, drainage, bleeding, hearing changes, an odor coming from the ear or other noticeable change.

There are safe home remedies to use that will clean earwax out, but talk with your pediatrician first to make sure the remedy is appropriate for your little one.

When a physician removes earwax, it’s typically done in the exam room. There might be a little discomfort but it isn't painful, though some kids may be uncomfortable with the sensation of someone handling their ears.

In rare cases where a child can't sit still or cooperate with the doctor, the procedure will be done in an operating room with the child given general anesthesia.

Doctors use a variety of different tools to remove earwax, including a tiny device with a curve at the end (called a curette), graspers, and suction, as well as an otoscope (a handheld tool with a light, used in regular checkups to see far into the ear canal). Removal takes just a few minutes and usually doesn't require any further treatment.

If there's a sign of infection, the doctor may prescribe antibiotic eardrops. But further home treatment usually isn't needed after most removals.

Dr. Seth Schwartz, chair of the guideline update group, said the strangest thing he’s seen someone stick in a waxy ear: a Barbie doll shoe. That definitely tops my mother’s bobby pins.

Remember, kids watch everything you do. If they see a parent or guardian putting something in their ear, they are more likely to put something in theirs too. That something could cause permanent damage. 

Story sources: Mary Brophy Marcus, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/earwax-removal-dos-and-donts/

Patrick Barth, MD, http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/earwhttp://kidshealth.org/en/parents/earwax.html#

Parenting

Spring-Cleaning Kid’s Stuff!

2:00

Traditionally, spring is when we review what is needed and what needs to go. Clutter that has been growing throughout the years is viewed with fresh eyes once the season of renewal begins.

Along with typical household items, all the extraneous, broken and outgrown kid’s stuff can begin to take a toll. It takes up a lot of space and requires constant picking up. Clothes are beginning to look like a small mountain made of material, buttons and zippers.

Organization and prioritizing are the keys to making the job of spring-cleaning work.

When you’re ready to tackle the kid’s stuff- make them a part of the process. From arts and crafts to toys and clothing – get their input and give them choices. You, however, make the final decision on what stays or goes.

Here are a list of items to start with and how kids can have input:

1. Artwork. Kids love to create things, but not everything is a masterpiece. Encourage your child to pick out a few drawings, paintings or pottery works that are their favorites. Consider framing those pieces and putting them up in their rooms. For the other works of art that you like or they are having trouble letting go- take photos and store them on your computer, so you have a record of their creations! If your child is old enough, ask them to be the photographer.

2. Clothing. Sometimes getting rid of clothing is harder (for sentimental reasons) on the parents than the kids. I admit to being guilty of this. I still have several pieces of clothing from when my adult daughter was a toddler or baby. They are stored in a chest of memories. For all the rest, sort clothing that is likely to be passed on to either family members or friends, and ones that are ready for donation. Torn and stained clothing needs to be tossed out. Family homeless shelters always need good, clean children’s clothes.

3. Collections. Many kids are collectors, everything from bugs to superhero gadgets to valuable sports cards. Whatever your child chooses to collect is a symbol of their unique personality and interests. Managing collections provide early lessons on personal responsibility and organizing. Take an interest in what your child is collecting and find a way to honor the collection while respecting the space available to store it. It’s enriching for children to learn about limits and become comfortable making decisions to live within them. It’s also a time to learn about boundaries for collecting stuff. Many a hoarder began with a specific collection and moved on to collecting everything – unable to let go of anything. Have your child pick one collection to focus on and explain what they like about it.

4. Stuffed animals. Because they are so darn cute, stuffed animals seem to multiply like rabbits (particularly stuffed rabbits!) Culling these furry creatures can be difficult for parents and kids. Lots of children receive many more stuffed animals than they can play with or use. Overtime, they outgrow the attraction they once felt towards certain ones. Give your child a number that they can keep and let them make the decision of what stays and goes. Again, this is an area where other children can benefit from and enjoy the gifts donated by your child.

5. Arts and Crafts. If you have a child, then you’ve also got crayons, coloring books, paper, dried up markers and pens that don’t work. Grab a doodle pad and bring all the supplies to a table. Have fun sorting with your kids while making quick decisions about what’s worth keeping and what’s not. If you haven’t got one, consider creating a travel pack of supplies for use in transit. Extras in great shape can be donated. Use for birthday party decorations and activities.

6. Sports equipment. This is an area a lot of parents don’t think too much about but these things can fill a closet or garage in a few short years. Equipment that will be used next year should be cleaned and stored in a bin. Some sports items in good condition can be sold, put on consignment, passed on or donated to leagues.

7. Toys. Ah yes, toys… the biggest space eater of all. Kids these days have a tremendous amount of toy options. Between marketing, fads, peers and commercials there is an endless push for the latest, greatest new toy. How many of these once “gotta-haves” are now just filling up space and providing objects to trip over? Most of the same rules from above apply here. If it’s broken- it’s gone. If it’s not played with any longer- it’s gone. If it’s become a pet chew-toy- it’s gone. Organization is particularly important for toy collections. Bins can provide a good storage option if they used, but they can also become trash cans where all toys go even if they are just pieces. Its time clean them out.

Have your child pick out their favorite toys and decide which ones he or she would like to donate or throw out.

Sort and assign a bin by type. Good toys that your child has simply outgrown can be gifted to nieces and nephews and friends of your child. Intact toys that can still be played with can be donated. Broken toys should be trashed. For certain types of materials, you might want to check on finding a recycling bin.

During this cleaning expedition, you may need to gently point out a toy’s condition to your little one, “I know that play oven was one of your favorite toys, but it doesn’t stand anymore and the front door is missing. Maybe it’s time to let it go.”

And then there’s always Ebay, might as well make a little back on the thousands you’ve spent, especially on video games!

Spring-cleaning is a good time to re-evaluate what needs to stay and what needs to go. I think we’re all aware that it’s time-consuming, but clearing out the clutter not only gives you more space and organization, but also feels great when it’s done!

Story source: Clare Kumar, http://www.todaysparent.com/family/activities/spring-cleaning-with-kids/

 

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