The odd earache can be treated quite easily and you can take steps to ease your child’s ear pain and give them the relief they need. In some cases, however, it may take more than tender loving care at home.
Recommended tips to relieve your child’s earache
It’s best to play it safe and take your child to the doctor’s office, no matter how mild or severe their pain seems. Even though only one-third of earaches are caused by bacterial infections, these infections can lead to serious problems including boils in your child’s ear canal, infection of your child’s mastoid bone (called mastoiditis) or deep tissues (cellulites), or even deafness.
With a proper examination and diagnosis, your child is well on their way to getting relief from their earache:
If your child’s earache is caused by an infection, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics and/or give you advice on how to treat it at home.
If wax blockage is the cause of your child’s earache, your doctor may flush out the wax with warm water or recommend wax-softening eardrops. Alternatively, your doctor may suction out the wax or remove it with a small device called a curette.
Here are other ways you can help your child get relief from earache pain and speed up healing:
Apply a warm cloth or warm water bottle to your child’s ears
Make sure your child gets plenty of rest
Keep your child’s ears dry to reduce the risk of re-infection
Elevate your child’s head since earaches tend to hurt more when your child lies down
Give your child plenty of clear liquids (such as water or apple juice), especially if your child has a fever
Do not give your child products containing acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) – ASA may cause a dangerous medical condition called Reye’s Syndrome
Surgery for your child’s earaches
Surgery is always a scary thought but in some cases may be necessary. Your child’s doctor may recommend surgery to clear up chronic fluid retention in your child’s middle ear that could cause hearing impairment or when ear infections are frequent to the point of being routine.
Performed by an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist, the eardrum may need to be cut to let the accumulated fluid drain. Drainage tubes (also known as ear tubes or grommets) may be placed in your child’s ear to allow for continued drainage. These tubes are undetectable (even by the child who has them inserted) and fall out on their own after several months.
This is a decision made by you and your child’s doctor and it could give your child much-needed relief from earaches.
When to call the doctor about your child’s earache
You should always take your child to the doctor if he or she has an earache, no matter what the severity. Chronic ear infections actually produce less severe symptoms than short-term or acute infections, but are more dangerous because they can cause permanent ear damage.