Common Ear Pain in Children

Earache in children is a common condition. However, this condition is often not realized by parents because children, especially infants and toddlers, have not been able to explain the complaints they feel. Therefore, mothers need to know what types of earaches in children and their symptoms are.

Ear pain in children can be caused by the eustachian canal that is still not fully developed. This condition makes children more at risk of developing ear pain due to fluid buildup in the ear.

In addition, ear pain in children can also occur because the child's immune system is not functioning optimally, so that the body is susceptible to infections, including infections in the ears that make the ears hurt.

Symptoms of Earache in Children

When the child is old enough, they can explain the pain they are experiencing and which part of the ear hurts. However, in infants and toddlers who can not speak well, they will look fussy or cry more often because of pain in their ears.

Ear pain in children can also be recognized from the following signs and symptoms:

  • Frequently pulling, scratching, or touching the ear
  • Fever
  • Ears look swollen and red
  • Fluid coming out of the ear
  • Sudden difficulty sitting or standing
  • Difficulty hearing or not responding when called
  • Throw up
  • Hard to sleep
  • Ears smell bad
  • Not wanting to eat, drink, or breastfeed

When your little one experiences some of the symptoms above, especially if the symptoms persist for days and do not improve, immediately take him to the doctor for an examination and get the right treatment.

Types of Earache in Children

The following are some types of ear pain in children that are quite common:

External ear pain

Also known as otitis externa, this is a condition in which the earlobe and ear canal become swollen and painful due to inflammation. Ear pain in children due to otitis externa can occur due to:

  • The habit of swimming, so that water enters the child's ear and causes irritation
  • Foreign object in ear
  • The habit of picking the ear or using it too often earphones
  • Bacterial or fungal infection
  • Skin diseases, such as eczema
  • Earwax buildup

If it is severe, external ear pain can make a child's ear become swollen and red, and make the child feel very sick.

Middle ear pain

Middle ear pain (otitis media) can be caused by various things, one of which is a viral or bacterial infection. Otitis media is quite common in infants and toddlers aged 6–24 months, especially those who are not breastfed or often breastfed in a lying position.

Middle ear pain in children can also be caused by a ruptured eardrum. This condition can be caused by a foreign object entering the ear, loud noises, and head or ear injuries.

A ruptured eardrum can cause a child to experience dizziness or vertigo, hearing loss, ringing in the ears, and discharge or pus from the ear.

If not treated immediately, middle ear pain can spread to other areas to cause mastoiditis, which is an infection of the mastoid bone located behind the ear, even causing infection of the lining of the brain (meningitis) which can be fatal.

Inner ear pain

Inner ear pain (otitis interna) is rarely experienced by children. This disease can be caused by a viral or bacterial infection of the ear or otitis media that is not treated immediately.

An example of an inner ear pain is: labyrinthitis and vestibular neuritis. Labyrinthitis is inflammation of the fluid-filled canal in the inner ear vestibular neuritis is inflammation of the vestibular nerve, which is the nerve in the inner ear that sends messages to the brain.

Inner ear pain can cause children to experience vertigo, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), vomiting, and hearing loss.

Treating Earache in Children

Earaches in children generally go away on their own. However, you are still advised to take your child to the doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.

After conducting an examination of the sick child's ear, the doctor will provide treatment according to the child's age and health condition, as well as the symptoms and severity of the earache experienced by the child. Treatment of ear pain in children can be in the form of:

Administration of drugs

Doctors can prescribe ear drops that contain antibiotics to kill bacteria and corticosteroid ear drops to relieve inflammation of the ear.

In addition, the doctor can also prescribe painkillers and fever reducers, such as paracetamol, to treat the pain and fever experienced by the child when he has an earache.


If medication doesn't work for your child's earache, the doctor will recommend surgery, such as myringotomy or eardrum surgery., to remove fluid in the eardrum and relieve swelling and inflammation in the child's ear.

Surgery is also generally recommended for children who often have ear infections, suffer from hearing loss, or are speech-delayed.

In the case of a ruptured eardrum, the doctor can patch or close the hole with patches or perform tympanoplasty surgery.

To prevent ear pain in children in the future, do the following ways:

  • Give the child exclusive breastfeeding.
  • Carry the child so that his head is higher than his body when breastfeeding.
  • Keep children away from cigarette smoke or avoid smoking near children.
  • Avoid giving your child a pacifier too often.
  • Encourage children to wash their hands frequently.
  • Supervise the child when playing so that he does not put foreign objects or toys in his ears.
  • Make sure your child is fully immunized, including the pneumococcal vaccine (PCV).

Earaches in children sometimes get better on their own. If the child is calm and not fussy, this indicates that the earache has improved.

However, take your child to the doctor immediately if the earache symptoms do not improve after a few days, the child seems very sick, has a fever, or has discharge, pus, or blood from the ear.