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    Earaches and your children

    Earaches in Children: Symptoms, Causes & Relief

    Earaches and ear infections are surprisingly common in babies and young children, but can be quite a painful and distressing experience if you’re not sure what’s wrong. It’s not always easy to spot the signs of an ear infection, but with a bit of knowledge you’ll understand why your child gets earaches, and what you can do to help.


    In this guide

    What causes earache?

    Earache is most commonly caused by a bacterial or viral infection. For example, when your child has a cold, bacteria can grow in the passages that connect the middle ear to nose. Once these passages block up, the middle ear becomes infected and inflamed (also known as otitis media). The build-up inside the ear then places pressure on the eardrum, causing it to bulge and become painful for your child.

    Other causes of earaches include:

    • Fluid building up inside the ear
    • Blocked ears from ear wax or other objects
    • Injury to the ear canal from cotton buds or other objects

    Take your child to see the doctor if you’re not sure what’s causing their earache, or if you’re worried about their hearing.

    What are some signs of earache?

    Earache can be miserable for a child of any age and worrying for you. Signs to look for include: 

    • Sharp, dull, or burning pain in one or both ears 
    • Pointing or pulling at the ear 
    • Hearing problems 
    • Fever 
    • Irritability or crying 
    • Sleeping problems 
    • Fluid draining from the ear 

    Ways to relieve your child’s earache

    Some mild earaches will clear up in a few hours. However, if they feel pain, get your child to rest in an upright position instead of lying down, as this may help to relieve some of the pressure on the ear and reduce pain. 

    See your doctor if your child’s earache doesn’t improve or if you have any concerns. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics or eardrops to help your child recover more quickly. 

    Pain relievers such as Nurofen for Children can help to relieve earache, and reduce fever. 

    Important information

    Always read the label. Use only as directed. Incorrect use could be harmful. If symptoms persist consult your healthcare professional. Do not give to babies under 3 months of age. Seek medical advice for children under 12 months of age. All information presented on these web pages is not meant to diagnose or prescribe. In all health related matters please contact your doctor.

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    This article is for general information only and not intended as a substitute for medical advice.


    1. Better Health Channel. Ear problems in children. Accessed 12 August 2014.
    2. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Ear infections in children. Accessed 12 August 2014.

    In this guide