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Ouch Mom, My Ear Hurts! Dealing with Ear Infections in Children

In many cases, ear infections do not require the use of antibiotics, and should clear up on their own, especially if they are viral. Children over six months can be observed at home if they do not have a fever higher than 102° F, severe pain, or other symptoms or medical conditions. Still, it is always a good idea to consult your child's pediatrician regarding any of your child's illnesses.

To help alleviate pain, the NIH recommends the following over-the-counter and at-home treatments:

  • Apply a warm cloth or warm water bottle.
  • Use over-the-counter ear drops to relieve pain.
  • Give over-the counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, upon approval from your child's pediatrician. Do not give aspirin to children.
  • If your child is six months or younger and has symptoms of an ear infection, he should see a doctor.

    Antibiotics may be prescribed if the infection is caused by bacteria. All children under six months of age are prescribed antibiotics for ear infections, and children under two years will be if they have a fever, are acting sick beyond the ear pain, and have not improved in 24 to 48 hours.

    If your child has many ear infections over a short period of time, or if he does not respond to antibiotics, your pediatrician may recommend ear tubes. Ear tubes are tiny tubes inserted into the eardrums that keep a small hole open that allows air to get in so fluid can drain more easily. This procedure requires general anesthesia, and the tubes usually fall out on their own over time.

    If enlarged adenoids are the cause of your child's ear infections, surgical removal of these may be considered, especially if he continues to suffer from several infections.


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