Some children struggle with earaches off and on throughout their childhood, and chronic ear infections often become a problem enough that parents may consider treatments such as surgical insertion of tubes to allow the ears to drain. However, many parents do not have experience with earaches and may be unsure of what to do if their child becomes unwell.
What causes an earache?
In most cases, a child with an ear ache has an ear infection. However, if the child inserts something into their ear and it gets stuck, this could lead to pain as well. However, if you have ruled out foreign objects, then infection is the likely culprit.
Symptoms of an ear infection include:
- Older children will be able to tell you that their ears hurt. Babies may be more irritable or they may pull at their ears.
- Loss of appetite. Swallowing can cause more pain because of the increase in pressure in the ears. Little ones may not be interested in eating.
- Children with an ear infection may develop a fever.
- Certain types of ear infections lead to drainage from the child’s ears, including white or yellow liquid that may even be tinged with blood.
- Loss of hearing. Many times with an ear infection, the child may lose some of their hearing. This is a temporary condition caused by fluid building up behind the ear drums.
Therefore, if you notice that your child has an earache, then they likely have an ear infection as well. A doctor will need to prescribe treatment.
If your child has an ear ache, then there are some things you need to know.
- Ear infections and earaches are not usually contagious.
- Earaches and ear infections tend to develop on the third day of a common cold.
- Colds are infectious, so your child can get this virus from another child and it could potentially lead to an ear ache.
- Earaches are most common in children between the ages of six months and three years.
Since a children’s ear infection often comes along with a fever, you may need to keep your child home until the fever has cleared up.
How to ease an earache
If your child develops an earache, there are some things you can do between now and when you visit the doctor to help ease the pain.
- You can give your child over the counter pain medication as long as you choose children’s dosages.
- Apply a hot compress, heating pad, or hot towel to the ear for 20 minutes to ease the pain.
If your child has an ear ache, do not put cotton in their ears. This can actually trap any pus or drainage, and this can further irritate the ear canal, making the condition worse.
Earaches are rarely serious, but they do usually mean an ear infection, which requires a trip to the doctor for antibiotics. As long as you keep an eye on your child for severe symptoms, then an ear ache should go away fairly quickly with the proper treatment. In most cases, by the time the child is two or three years old, the number of earaches should drop significantly.
If you have questions or concerns about earaches in children contact your local doctor, who will arrange for you to see an Ear Nose Throat Specialist.