Earache in Kids

Children frequently complain of  earache. In ENT practice, earache is the most common presenting complaint in kids. It can be mild in some while in others it can be severe and excruciating.

How to know if your kid has earache?

Your kid may have ear pain if he

earache in kids
baby pulling his left ear
  1. Points to his ear repeatedly
  2. Pulls his ears
  3. Has temperature
  4. Has imbalance and falls off
  5. Is irritable
  6. Does not hear you properly
  7. Does not eat properly
  8. Is crying inconsolably

Causes of Earache in Kids

There are a number of causes for earache in kids. I have compiled a list of the most common ones based on my practice. I have categorized the causes based on the accompanying symptoms.

  1. Earache with reduced hearing – fluid inside the drum, injured drum, foreign object inside the ear, insect in the ear, accumulation of wax, infection
  2. Fever along with earache – ear infection, cold
  3. Earache with throat pain – tonsillitis, pharyngitis, abscess
  4. Tooth pain with earache – teething, dental caries, poor oral hygiene
  5. Earache with imbalance – labyrinthitis, ear infection
baby crying due to earache
baby crying

What can you do at home?

When your child has earache please try to follow some important steps to help them. Firstly, provide them with something warm to keep over and around the ear. Secondly, if there is cold and sore throat, give them some steam and warm saline gargles. Next, do not let water go into the ears. Do not attempt to remove the wax or foreign object yourself. You can give Advil (ibuprofen) or Tylenol (paracetamol) after confirming the dose from us. If the earache does not resolve or if there is any warning sign please contact us immediately. Warning signs are blood from ear, imbalance, persistent earache even after few days of medicines and live object inside the ear. Do not try home remedies as shown in various sites. And, definitely do not put any ear drops without asking an ENT specialist.

What the ENT specialist does?

The ENT specialist looks into the ear using an otoscope or endoscope after you tell him what happened. In our set-up we show the older kids the images through the endoscope. If there is any object inside, we try and remove in our office itself. In a few cases, when that is not possible, like babies for instance, we admit them into our hospital and perform the same under anesthesia.

In addition, the doctor will give you medicines such as antibiotics and decongestants if you have sore throat, cold and fever. You may be asked to go back after a few days for a review.

Precautions to prevent earache

Make sure that you and your kidbaby's right ear

  1. Avoid inserting anything inside the ear
  2. Do not use Q-tips very deeply
  3. If there is any ear problem, do not let water enter the ear
  4. Do not blow your nose forcefully

When kids see you do something, they try and copy it. For instance, when kids see their parents inserting Q-tips inside the ear, they get motivated to insert objects into their ear too. As a result we get many kids in our clinic with suspected objects inside the ear.


Though most cases of earache in kids are harmless, ignoring one which has been persistent or associated with warning signs can prove costly. Talk to our experts whenever you are in doubt. We shall guide you on how to keep your kids ears healthy and problem free.

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