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First Aid & Emergencies

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Treating Ear Infections in Children

Parents can often treat mild ear infections at home. For more severe infections, or if your child is under 2 years old, you may need prescription medication.

Call Doctor If:

  • Your baby has symptoms of an ear infection and is younger than 6 months.
  • Your child has symptoms of an ear infection along with a fever of 102 F or higher, inconsolable crying, severe pain, or other symptoms of concern.
  • You see ear drainage, or the ear looks like it's sticking out.

1. Use Child-Formula Pain Relievers

  • Call a pediatrician before giving your child an infant- or child-strength over-the-counter pain reliever for the first time.
  • Give children's-formula acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) if your child is older than 6 months. Follow the dosing instructions on the bottle or your pediatrician's suggestions.
  • Do not give aspirin to children under age 16.

2. Soothe the Ear

  • Put a warm washcloth or water bottle on the ear.

3. Consider Pain-Relieving Eardrops

  • Ask your pediatrician whether they might help your child.
  • Don't use eardrops without asking your pediatrician.

4. Observe Your Child

  • If symptoms seem to be getting worse, call a pediatrician. Your child may need further treatment.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Roy Benaroch, MD on September 11, 2015

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