Earache in children

CALL 999 if any of the following are presentearachechild

  • Your child has a headache, stiff neck and light hurts their eyes and/or is very sleepy and confused?

CALL 111  OR SEE YOUR EMERGENCY GP if any of the following are present

  • Your child has injured their ear or stuck something into it
  • Your is child very distressed, with pain that has not been helped by painkillers such as paediatric paracetamol oral suspension (available from pharmacists)
  • There yellow or blood-stained liquid (a discharge) coming from the ear
  • Your child has a rash
  • You think your child is getting worse
  • Your child has lumps behind their ear


It is safe to manage this problem yourself at home.  Earache is a common and unpleasant symptom in childhood. Most ear infections will clear up on their own and without antibiotics.   There are ways you can help relieve the symptoms.

  • A painkiller, such as paediatric paracetamol oral suspension (available from pharmacists), will help relieve the pain.
  • Place your child in an upright position with pillows.
  • Keep your child away from smoky environments.
  • Don’t let your child drink from a bottle while they are lying down.
  • Don’t give decongestants as they will not help to relieve symptoms.
  • Never poke any objects into the ear (for example, cotton buds) as they often pack the wax tighter and can damage the ear.
  • Avoid swimming or getting water in the ear until pain has subsided.
  • If the condition gets worse or new symptoms develop, Call 111
  • If you are still worried, call Call 111

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