Treating Ear Infections in Children

Parents can often manage 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, the ear looks like it's sticking out, or there is swelling in front of the ear.

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. Observe Your Child

  • If symptoms seem to be getting worse, call a pediatrician. Your child may need further treatment.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Renee A. Alli, MD on November 05, 2019


SOURCES: "Ear Infection Today, Gone Tomorrow" and "Ear Infection Questions."

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