Ear Pain

A guide for parents and caregivers on ear pain

What is ear pain?

Ear pain in children can be caused by many underlying factors, the most common culprit being ear infections. Though ear infections can be extremely painful, they’ve all but become a universal rite of passage for toddlers.

What you need to know

In most instances, ear pain isn’t an emergency and doesn’t require immediate medical attention. However, if your child has noticeable swelling and redness behind the painful ear, they may have a condition known as mastoiditis. This is caused by an ear infection that has spread into the bones around the ear.

How you can help

Some of the best at-home care tips for treating ear pain include:

  • Ibuprofen (for children 6 months and older) or Tylenol

  • Placing a warm, damp compress on the painful ear

  • Mullein garlic oil, which research has found reduces ear pain

Be aware that drops should not be used if you suspect your child has a ruptured eardrum. An eardrum rupture causes large amounts of drainage that can be white, yellow, or red in color.

When to contact your doctor

It’s best to seek medical attention for your child if:

  • Ear pain hasn’t gotten better

  • There’s discharge from the ear

  • Your child’s hearing seems to be impacted

Most ear infections are viral and clear up without medical intervention. However, if your child’s ear looks like it could become infected, antibiotics may be prescribed.

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