Why Does My Child Have Ear Pain?

little girl with earache

What Do I Do if My Child Has an Earache?

When your child is sick, it can be difficult to determine what's wrong so you can give your child the care they need. When it comes to ear pain (otalgia), here are some of the top causes and solutions:

Ear Infections

Has your child complained of a painful, burning sensation in their ear? Ear infections can occur in patients of all ages, but they are most common in children. They are usually caused by bacterial infections in the inner ear and may accompany a flu or cold.

While most ear infections go away on their own over time, younger patients are at an increased risk of developing long-term issues and should be treated right away. If your child or their symptoms fit any of the below, you should bring them in for treatment:

  • A newborn under 1-year old.
  • Symptoms (especially severe pain) that last for more than a day.
  • The infection occurred in conjunction with a cold or flu.
  • There is discharge leaking from the ear.
  • The infection is accompanied by a fever.

Fluid Behind the Eardrum

Also known as otitis media with effusion, fluid can build up behind a child’s ear when the Eustachian tube that connects the middle ear to the back of their nose is blocked. Typically, there is no infection present, therefore antibiotics cannot help treat their symptoms.

This condition typically resolves in around three months, however, you can give your child acetaminophen or ibuprofen as needed for pain relief and also use warm compresses. At times, some patients may experience temporary hearing loss. Before giving your child any medication, let your doctor examine their ears and advise you of the appropriate treatment plan.

Swimmer’s Ear

Whether it’s bath time or pool time, swimmer’s ear is another very common condition in children. Also known as otitis externa, swimmer’s ear indicates that there is an infection in the child’s external ear canal. Often, this occurs if the skin in the ear canal becomes irritated or scratched.

Typically, we will prescribe topical antibiotic drops, as well as ibuprofen or acetaminophen to control pain. If your child repeatedly gets swimmer’s ear, you should speak to your doctor about preventative measures to take, such as using ear drops and wearing earplugs when swimming.

Other Common Causes

From trauma to the ear canal to wax build-up or teething, there are a number of other minor instances that can cause an earache. The best course of action is to observe your child’s behaviors and bring them to see their pediatrician so we can determine the cause of their pain and help resolve it.

Pediatric Urgent Care Services in Arlington

No matter the source of your child’s ear pain, our team at Urgentology Care is here to help. Simply stop into our clinic for a walk-in visit, or schedule an appointment online.

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