When your child is suffering from ear pain, it can be difficult to determine whether you should have the child seen or not. Not all ear pain will need to be evaluated by a doctor. Our triage nurse will gladly help you evaluate your child’s condition based on a few variables. Here are some tips to help your child be more comfortable until our nurse is available or until your appointment time.
If your child has ear pain with cold symptoms:
Acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be given every 4-6 hours, or if the child is 6 months or older ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) can be given every 6 hours. If the pain is not controlled by medicine, he/she is acting very ill, has a high fever, or is less than 6 months old, the child should be seen that day.
In children 6 months of age or older, 4 out of 5 ear infections will resolve without antibiotics. The current recommendation is that ear infections should be treated initially with pain-relieving medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Antibiotics should be used if the pain persists for more than 48 hours. The main reason to avoid antibiotic usage is to decrease antibiotic resistance by bacteria. Antibiotic resistance will make treating all types of infections more difficult in the future.
Ear pain with no cold symptoms:
If your child develops ear pain after an episode of swimming and the pain increases when the outer part of the ear is moved, the pain could be related to Otitis Externa, also known as Swimmer’s Ear. This condition is not harmful but can be quite painful. Water trapped in the ear leads to inflammation and increased growth of germs in the ear canal. If you believe this is the case, please give child acetaminophen or ibuprofen and call our office during office hours. The triage nurse will be able to help you assess the situation and determine if the child will require prescription ear drops.
If there has been any trauma to the ear, your child should be evaluated by a doctor.
If an ear infection is suspected and the pain is not controlled by a pain reliever for longer than 48 hours, please call our office to schedule an appointment with one of our pediatricians.