Earaches in Children

We know earache can be really painful for your little one. It is very common in children, so it’s handy knowing what you can do to ease their pain.

From simple tips to soothe tender ears to treating the pain with paracetamol, there’s plenty of ways you can bring them more comfort.

How do I know if my little one has earache?

Although earache can be common in young ones, it can sometimes be hard to work out whether it is ear pain that is upsetting them.

Look out for these common symptoms:

  • they’re rubbing or pulling at their ear
  • not reacting to quiet sounds
  • a mild fever of 37.5°C or above
  • they seem irritable and are restless at night
  • coughing or runny nose
  • they have trouble keeping their balance
  • not feeding well

How can I help them feel better?

Often earaches are caused by an ear infection, which will generally take a few days. You can soothe your child’s pain with infant paracetamol. Here are your options:

Do they have a fever too?

Paracetamol-based medicines will treat pain as well as reducing a fever. CALPOL® Infant Suspension and CALPOL® SIXPLUS™ Suspension get to work on fever in just 15 minutes.

  • Are they in pain?

    Try a paracetamol-based medicine, like CALPOL® Infant Suspension. It is suitable for most babies from 2 months.
    Are they 6 years or older? To help take the pain away, you could go for a paracetamol-based medicine for older children, like CALPOL® SIXPLUS Suspension.

Handy tip

For mild earache, you can try gently placing a warm flannel over the affected ear (it may soothe them if you whisper a few gentle words in it too!).

Some more simple tips

  • Avoid getting the affected ear wet if the earache is caused by an ear infection
  • Make sure you don’t put cotton buds into your little one’s ear as the ear canal is very delicate.
  • If your little one’s eardrums burst, make sure you do not use eardrops or olive oil drops. The pharmacist may be able to recommend over-the-counter eardrops for earache. 

How long will it last?

Most earaches will clear up one their own once the underlying cause goes away. How long it lasts can depend on the cause.
Most common causes of earache are:

  • Ear infection
  • Damage to the inside of the ear (by a cotton bud for example)
  • A build up of ear wax
  • Throat infection
  • Glue ear - a build of fluid inside the ear.

When to call the doctor

Ear infections are very common and they’ll generally clear up without any trouble. But you should get in touch with your GP if:

  • they have symptoms such as a fever, vomiting, a severe sore throat, swelling around the ear or discharge from the ear
  • the earache doesnt improve within a few days
  • they have something stuck in their ear
  • the information on this page is not exhaustive. You know your child best, if you have any concerns about your child, you should contact your GP.


See also

Aches & pains
Aches & pains

Every child suffers aches and pains as they’re growing up. Find out what might be causing them and what you can do to help.

More about aches & pains

CALPOL® Infant Suspension
CALPOL® Infant Suspension


Contains paracetamol.
For babies and children aged 2 months to 6 years weighing more than 4kg and not premature.

Tough on pain and fever. Gentle on the tummy.

Full product details

Contact the HSE

For health advice and reassurance.

1850 24 1850