Q: Karen: My three-year-old takes absolutely no medicine by mouth. She has a head cold and we’re going to be flying. Will adult nasal spray decongestants help unclog her ears?
A: Dean Edell, M.D.: Possibly. You might try an antihistamine like Benadryl. Some antihistamines come in candy-flavored liquids. They can be poured into soda and the child never knows the difference. Some children might even drink them straight.
I’m not quite sure why, but most doctors do not recommend nasal spray for children. For one thing, getting a kid to take nasal spray is sometimes difficult. You’ve got to get the spray in the back of the throat where the eustachian tubes open up.
When elevation increases on a plane, the Eustachian tubes, which go from the back of the throat to the inner ear, plug up; the ear can’t equalize the pressure. The inner ear gets bigger and bigger, because the tubes are clogged.
Sprays should be directed to the back of the throat, while the recipient is lying flat. Most adults can easily tolerate this.
I am always a fan of delivering medication directly where it’s needed, so I like nose drops. I would consi! der either the antihistamines, or the nose drops. One little shot of nose drops ought to be all right for a child.