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Ear Infection Health Center

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Home Treatment

Rest and care at home is often all that children age 2 or older need when they have an ear infection. Most ear infections get better without treatment. If your child is mildly ill and home treatment takes care of the earache, you may choose not to see a doctor.

At home, try these tips:

  • Use pain relievers. Pain relievers such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (Advil, Aleve, and Motrin, for example) and acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) will help your child feel better. Giving your child something for pain before bedtime is especially important.
    • Follow all instructions on the label. If you give medicine to your baby, follow your doctor's advice about what amount to give.
    • Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than 20, because it is linked to Reye syndrome, a serious illness.
  • Apply heat to the ear, which may help with pain. Use a warm washcloth or a heating pad. Do not allow a child to go to bed with a heating pad. He or she could get burned. Use a heating pad only if your child is old enough to tell you if it's getting too hot.
  • Encourage rest. Resting will help the body fight the infection. Arrange for quiet play activities.
  • Use eardrops. Doctors often suggest eardrops for earache pain. Don't use eardrops without a doctor's advice, especially if your child has tubes in his or her ears. For more information, see the safest way to insert eardrops camera.gif.

If your child isn't better after a few days of home treatment, call your doctor.

Care for ear tubes or ruptured eardrums

Ask your doctor about ear protection for your child. He or she can tell you when the hole in the eardrum has healed and when it's okay to go back to regular water activities.

Care during air travel

If your child with an ear infection must take an airplane trip, talk with your doctor about how to help your child cope with ear pain during the trip.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 10, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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