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Ear Pain


An earache is a miserable experience at any age. Older children may complain of ear pain, while younger children may become very fussy and wake up during the night crying.

Children pull on their ears and/or complain about their ears for many reasons.
Not all earaches are infections. Infants may just be discovering and playing with their ears. Older children may experience discomfort from an itchy ear canal, wax, or pressure. Many people get ear pain as part of a cold.

If your child has persistent ear pain and cold symptoms, especially with a fever, he may have an ear infection.

Ear pain is not an emergency. Most earaches will resolve without medications in 1-2 days. There are several things you can do to keep your child comfortable until you can be seen in the office.

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol) at the appropriate dose given every 4 hours.
  • Ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil) at the appropriate dose given every 6 hours.
  • A warm pack on the sore ear for 20 minutes every hour.
  • Have your child rest with her head elevated.
  • A few drops of slightly warmed vegetable, olive or sweet oil in the sore ear unless there is drainage from the ear or your child has ear tubes.
  • If you suspect swimmer's ear (outer ear pain or itching) check out our Summer Health page.

Call the office if:
  • The ear pain lasts longer than 48 hours.
  • There is fever for longer than 48 hours.
  • There is pus or fluid draining from the ear.
  • You have any concerns or questions.