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Ear Pain

Here's what you should know

Earaches are a universal rite of passage for children. Unfortunately, ear infections can be downright painful, and some kids get them more than others.

Thankfully, ear pain is almost never an emergency unless your child has noticeable swelling and redness behind the ear that hurts (this can be a sign of a rare but more urgent condition called mastoiditis, when an ear infection spreads and infects the bones around the ears).

Home care tips

  • Give some ibuprofen (for children older than 6 months) or Tylenol
  • Place a warm, damp compress on your child's ear
  • Mullein garlic oil has been shown in at least one quality medical study to reduce ear pain. However, drops of any sort should not be used if you suspect an eardrum rupture. Usually, an eardrum rupture is obvious; there will be large amounts of yucky white to yellow/red drainage from your child's ear

Most ear infections are viral. We can offer to send a "just in case" antibiotic prescription with you if your child has an ear that looks like it could become infected after your appointment, but most ear infections will clear up on their own.

Note:  If your child has ear pain for more than a couple days, it's important to have them checked by your doctor to see what is causing the pain.


This illness guide is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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If you think your child may have a life threatening emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

Not sure what's going on with your little one?