Earache is a very common in children and some children are more prone than others.

The pain may be caused by infection or simply by blocked tubes causing a build up of pressure.

Other things such as teething can also appear to cause earache.

The main treatment for earache is paracetamol to relieve the pain and temperature and most will settle with this treatment alone.

Antibiotics are sometimes indicated but they will not give pain relief as rapidly as paracetamol.  A warm water bottle, wrapped in a towel and held against the ear may help but care needs to be taken to avoid scalding.

It is not helpful, and may be dangerous, to insert objects such as cotton wool, cotton buds or oil into the ear.

Decongestants, available from pharmacies, may relieve the pressure caused by blocked tubes.  Inhaling steam, with or without a decongestant in it, will also help to open blocked tubes.

Contact the doctor when the surgery is open if:

  • the earache persists for several days

  • the earache is accompanied by a temperature

  • the earache is accompanied by an unpleasant discharge (not just simply wax which has melted with the temperature)

  • you suspect your child may be developing a hearing problem

Contact the doctor straight away if:

  • the pain is severe and doesn’t improve with paracetamol

  • the child becomes unusually drowsy