Ear Infections - Home Treatment
Rest and care at home is often all children 2 years of age or older with ear infections need. 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 seek treatment for the ear infection.
At home, try:
- Using pain relievers. Pain relievers such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (such as Advil, Motrin, and Aleve) 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.
- Applying heat to the ear, which may help with pain. Use a warm washcloth or a heating pad. Do not allow children to go to bed with a heating pad. They could get burned. Use a heating pad only if your child is old enough to tell you if it's getting too hot.
- Encouraging rest. Resting will help the body fight the infection. Arrange for quiet play activities.
- Using 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 .
Decongestants, antihistamines, expectorants, and other over-the-counter cold remedies usually do not work for treating or preventing ear infections. Antihistamines that cause sleepiness may thicken fluids, which can make your child feel worse. Check with the doctor before giving these medicines to your child. Experts say not to give decongestants to children younger than age 2.
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.
If your child isn't better after a few days of home treatment, call your doctor.
If your child has a ruptured eardrum or has ear tubes in place, keep water from getting in the ear when your child takes a bath or a shower or goes swimming. The ear could get infected if any germs in the water get into the ear. If your doctor says it?s okay, your child may use earplugs. Or your doctor may have other advice for you. 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.