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About Earache

Ear infections are common in babies and young toddlers. One of the signs to look out for is that your child may rub or pull at their ear, although this can be harder to detect in young babies as they may not be able to tell where the pain is coming from and will often just cry or seem uncomfortable. Babies may also feel hot and irritable if they have an ear infection.

If you find that your child has earaches that last a long time or keep coming back, they could have otitis media which can also cause fever, flu-like symptoms and slight deafness. This is often caused by the common cold, although it can also be a result of a weakened immune system caused by childhood illness such as measles, or if there is a perforation in the eardrum, this could get infected when water enters the child's ear whilst bathing or swimming.

Otitis media can also result in sticky fluids building up in the ear (known as glue ear) which may affect your child's hearing. Ask your GP for advice on treating glue ear.

Treating the symptoms:

Most ear infections will clear up without the help of antibiotics, however if the symptoms do persist you should contact your GP. To ease your child's symptoms in the meantime, you could try following these tips:

  • Give your baby a pain relieving medicine, such as Calpol Infant Suspension or Calprofen Ibuprofen Suspension to soothe the pain. These medicines may also help to reduce his temperature if he has a fever.
  • If they have a perforated eardrum, take care when washing his hair and try to avoid getting water into their ears.
  • Do not put oil, eardrops or cotton buds into your child's ear unless advised otherwise by your GP.
  • If your child has trouble hearing due to an ear infection, this should last 2 to 6 weeks. If this persists, contact your GP for advice.

This is for background information only. If you are at all concerned or in any doubt contact your GP.