My Child Has a Terrible Earache: What Should I Do?

Jul 02, 2023
My Child Has a Terrible Earache: What Should I Do?
Earaches are a fairly common medical problem for kids. While some earaches can be mild, others can be quite serious, leading to permanent hearing loss unless they’re treated early. Here’s what you should do and how we can help.

Earaches and ear infections are common. In fact, about half of children will have at least one ear infection before their second birthday

As a leading medical provider for people of all ages in Kihei, Kahului, and Lahaina, Hawaii, Minit Medical Urgent Care and Physical Therapy offers comprehensive care for ear infections, providing fast relief and preventing future complications. Here, our expert team offers some helpful tips about earaches, including what you can do to ease your child’s symptoms and help them stay healthy.

Causes and symptoms of earaches in kids

Earaches can happen for different reasons, including wax buildup, allergies, tooth decay, and sinus and throat infections. But one of the most common causes of pediatric ear pain is infection. In children, most ear infections affect either the outer ear or the inner ear.  

The outer ear includes the part of the ear that you can see along with the ear canal, all the way up to the eardrum. Outer ear infections (otitis externa) involve these parts of the ear. Swimmer’s ear is a common type of outer ear infection that happens when water trapped in this part triggers bacteria growth, causing a painful infection along with symptoms like ear redness and itching.


Middle ear infections (otitis media) involve the area of the ear just behind the eardrum. Infections in this part of the ear typically happen as a result of bacterial or viral infections, along with fluid buildup inside the ear. These infections tend to be more common in kids whose Eustachian tubes are still developing, interfering with normal drainage of fluids.

Treating your child’s earache

Any type of severe, ongoing, or recurring ear pain is a definite sign that your child needs to be medically evaluated. Infections and other causes of ear pain can lead to permanent hearing loss. They may also be a sign of an underlying issue that requires prompt treatment.

During your child’s visit, our team reviews your child’s symptoms, takes their temperature, and looks inside the ear. Based on our findings, we may recommend over-the-counter pain medicines and TLC for mild issues, or prescribe antibiotics for more advanced infections. 

For very severe infections or recurrent ear infections involving fluid inside the ear, we may suggest a simple procedure to insert special drainage tubes. These tubes allow fluid to drain normally, preventing bacterial and viral growth.

Until your visit, you can help your child stay comfortable with over-the-counter children’s acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Using a warm compress on the ear may help, as well. Do not attempt to clean or explore your child’s ear using a swab or other object.

Don’t ignore ear pain

Since different issues can cause earaches, having any type of ear pain or other ear-related symptom medically evaluated is the best way to relieve symptoms and prevent further problems, including hearing loss and serious infections. 

To find out what’s causing your child’s earache and how we can help, book an appointment online or over the phone with Minit Medical Urgent Care and Physical Therapy, or take advantage of our walk-in services today. We offer island-wide care from three locations in Kihei, Kahului, and Lahaina, Hawaii.