This is a common complaint
in childhood and one that can understandably
produce considerable anxiety because of its
potential danger. Teething is a common cause of
earache in infants, often causing them to pull
their ear, beyond the ear drum, is connected by
a short tube ( the Eustachian tube) to the back
of the throat, and this provides a frequent
pathway for bacteria to enter the ear from the
nose and throat.
Not infrequently it is a
term a child uses to mean something different
from that understood by adults and, when he says
‘my tummy hurts’, the child might
indeed be meaning that he feels nauseated or
Besides pain, other
symptoms may include fever, a general feeling of
being unwell, occasional vomiting and,
frequently, a runny nose. Often there will be a
slight discharge from the ear and its appearance
may coincide with a reduction in the pain,
indicating a fall in the pressure that has
previously been building up in the middle ear.
If there is a discharge, the child should be
taken to the doctor as antibiotic treatment is
likely to be required.
A useful test to
help differentiate the pain of acute infection
from other causes (such as teething) is to
gently pull the ear outwards and backwards,
having first distracted the child’s
attention. If such a movement is associated with
discomfort it is likely to be due to a middle
– ear infection, and a doctor’s
advice should be sought.
For pain relief, analgesics
such as soluble aspirin or Disprin should be
given. The application of local heat by putting
two to three drops of olive or almond oil that
has been warmed to body temperature into the ear
will be helpful (test the oil on your wrist to
make sure it is not too hot). Infections tend to
WHEN TO CONSULT THE DOCTOR
If the earache is
sever or has persisted for more than 12 hours.
If there is a
discharge from the ear.
If the child is
generally unwell with fever, vomiting, etc.