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Ear Problems and Injuries,Age 11 and Younger - Home Treatment

When ear discomfort or pain is mild or comes and goes and occurs without other symptoms, home treatment may be all that is needed to relieve your child's discomfort. Home treatment measures include the following:

  • Encourage your child to swallow more often. The discomfort may be caused by a blocked eustachian tube that can occur with mild irritation in the ear canal. Let a child younger than age 12 months drink from a bottle or cup to try to help open the eustachian tube.
  • Some babies and children who have ear pain are more comfortable in an upright position. Allow the child to rest in the position that is most comfortable.
  • To relieve moderate to severe ear pain while waiting to see your doctor, or to relieve a red, swollen external ear:
    • Apply heat to the ear to ease pain. Use a warm washcloth. Be careful not to burn the skin around the ear. There may be some drainage when the heat melts earwax.
    • Encourage your child to rest as much as possible.
Medicine you can buy without a prescription
Try a nonprescription medicine to help treat your child's fever or pain:

Talk to your child's doctor before switching back and forth between doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen. When you switch between two medicines, there is a chance your child will get too much medicine.

Safety tips
Be sure to follow these safety tips when you use a nonprescription medicine:
  • Carefully read and follow all labels on the medicine bottle and box.
  • Give, but do not exceed, the maximum recommended doses.
  • Do not give your child a medicine if he or she has had an allergic reaction to it in the past.
  • Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than age 20 unless directed to do so by your child's doctor.
  • Do not give naproxen (such as Aleve) to children younger than age 12 unless your child's doctor tells you to.

Symptoms to watch for during home treatment

Call your child's doctor if any of the following occur during home treatment:

  • Your child's pain gets worse.
  • Your child develops a new fever.
  • New or different drainage from the ear develops.
  • Your child's symptoms become more severe or more frequent.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: July 25, 2012
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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