Painful earaches are common in children of all ages. Beyond the pain in the ear, children might experience fever, irritability, temporary hearing loss or difficulty eating and sleeping. Pain relief during the earache helps your child feel more comfortable until the earache clears up, either on its own or with antibiotics.
Fluid and pressure building up in the middle ear, which is behind the eardrum, often results in earaches for children. Infections are the common cause for this buildup. The infection could be caused by either bacteria or a virus. Ear pain might also be caused by an object getting pushed into the ear, a ruptured eardrum or impacted ear wax, according to MedlinePlus. Knowing the cause of the earache helps with the treatment to provide relief from the pain.
Heat or Cold
Either heat or cold can provide pain relief for your child. A washcloth dampened with cold water or an ice pack provide a source of cold pain relief for the ear. A heating pad set on a warm temperature works well if your child prefers warmth to relieve the pain. Help your child position the cold or warm source over the affected ear for 15 to 20 minutes at a time.
Pain relievers available over-the-counter offer temporary pain relief for a child with an earache. If your child also has a fever, either ibuprofen or acetaminophen help lower the child’s temperature in addition to the pain relief. Choose an infant or child’s version of the pain relievers, depending on your child’s age. Check with your child’s physician or a pharmacist if you are unsure about dosing. Never give a child aspirin, which can cause a serious condition called Reye’s syndrome.
Your child’s position affects the amount of pressure she feels in the ear. A more upright position might help relieve some of the pressure, giving your child some relief. Some pharmacies sell over-the-counter ear drops to help relief earache pain. MedlinePlus notes that you should note use these drops if the eardrum ruptures.
A visit to the doctor helps determine the cause of the earache, as well as the need for further intervention. If the doctor determines the earache is caused by a bacterial infection, he can prescribe antibiotics. He might also recommend a prescription-strength ear drop option to help relieve the earache. Symptoms that get worse or don’t improve in a day or two warrant a call to the doctor. More serious symptoms that accompany the earache, such as a bad headache, weakness, swelling or dizzy spells, should also be evaluated by a physician.