A check is best for earache
If you think your child has an earache, take them to your family doctor. They’ll look inside your child’s ears and tell you if they have an ear infection and how best to treat it.
Most earaches need pain relief not antibiotics
Earaches are one of the most common reasons parents take young children to the doctor. Antibiotics won’t help most ear infections get better any faster in children over 2 years. That’s why most earaches need pain relief, not antibiotics.
Pain from an ear infection usually comes on quickly and lasts for around a day. Pain relief medicines (like paracetamol and ibuprofen) will help relieve a fever and any pain or discomfort, and help your child feel better. It can help to keep your child home from childcare or school while they’re not feeling well and give them the chance to rest in a warm, comfortable place.
Remember, a check is always best with an earache
Your doctor is the best person to tell you what the best treatment for your child is and whether antibiotics are needed for any infection. They might want to recheck your child’s ears around 6-12 weeks later to make sure any fluid in the ears had gone, and prevent any future ear or hearing problems.
Signs and symptoms of an ear infection
In babies and younger children, the only sign of an ear infection might be a fever, but they may also:
- cry or grizzle more than usual
- be hard to settle
- keep touching their sore ear
- have a fever.
An older child will often complain about ear pain and may also have a fever. They might also feel unwell and have some problems hearing.
See your doctor as soon as you can if your child has:
- fluid coming out of their ears
- nausea or vomiting
- a severe headache, stiff neck, or really bad pain in the ear
- is sensitive to light.
Worried about your child’s condition?
Call Healthline on 0800 611 116 for free advice from a trained registered nurse, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Or in an emergency, visit your local hospital or call 111.
We need to use antibiotics carefully, or they’ll stop working
Overusing antibiotics especially when we don't need to, is causing antibiotic resistance – where bacteria get better at defending themselves and our antibiotics don’t work as well. Over time antibiotics could stop working when we need them to, putting people’s lives at risk. It’s a global health threat, and we all need to help keep antibiotics working.
Last updated: 9 August 2018