If you have earache, you may also have other symptoms, like a high temperature or hearing loss. Earache can be harder to spot in young children.
Taking painkillers and placing a warm or cold flannel on your ear can help ease earache. You can also get treatments like eardrops from a pharmacy.
Common causes of earache include ear infections, a build-up of earwax in your ear and fluid in your ear (glue ear).
A young child might have earache if they:
- rub or pull their ear
- do not react to some sounds
- have a temperature of 38C or above
- are irritable or restless
- are off their food
- keep losing their balance
Earache and ear pain can affect 1 or both ears.
There are some things you can do to help relieve earache and ear pain.
use painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen (children under 16 should not take aspirin)
place a warm or cold flannel on the ear
do not put anything inside your ear, such as cotton buds
do not try to remove earwax
do not let water get inside your ear
A pharmacist might be able to tell you:
- what you can do to treat earache yourself
- if you can buy anything to help (for example, eardrops)
- if you need to see a GP
Earache and pain can be caused by many things, but sometimes it's not known by what.
Here are some of the most common causes:
Symptoms: Ear pain with toothache
Possible condition: Children teething, dental abscess
Symptoms: Ear pain with change in hearing
Possible condition: Glue ear, earwax build-up, an object stuck in the ear (do not try to remove it yourself – see a GP), perforated eardrum (particularly after a loud noise or accident)
Symptoms: Ear pain with pain when swallowing
Possible condition: Sore throat, tonsillitis, quinsy (a complication of tonsillitis)
Symptoms: Ear pain with a fever
Possible condition: Ear infection, flu, cold
Page last reviewed: 06-08-2019
Next review due:06-08-2022