Skip to content

Surgery Door
Search our Site
Tip: Try using OR to broaden your
search e.g: Cartilage or joints
.

Ear infections

Ear infections are common in babies and small children. They often follow a cold and sometimes cause a bit of a temperature.

Your child may pull or rub at an ear, but babies can’t always tell where pain is coming from and may just cry and seem unwell and uncomfortable.

  • If your child has earache but is otherwise well, paracetamol can be given for 12 to 24 hours. A covered hot water bottle can also be placed under your child’s ear for warmth. 
  • Do not put any oil or eardrops into your child’s ear unless advised by the GP. 
  • Some doctors prefer to treat ear infections with antibiotics, others feel the infection will clear up with paracetamol and decongestant nose drops.

After an ear infection your child may have a hearing problem for two to six weeks. If the problem persists after this time you should see your GP for further advice.

Repeated ear infections

Repeated bouts of middle ear infections (called otitis media) may lead to ‘glue ear’ (otitis media with effusion). Here sticky fluid builds up and can affect your child’s hearing. Your child may also have behaviour problems.

If you smoke, your child is more likely to develop glue ear and will not get better so quickly. Never bottle feed your baby if he or she is lying down nor let your child drink milk lying down if he or she has repeated ear infections. The milk may go into the short tube between the ear and throat (Eustachian tube) and cause irritation. It is also better if your baby can be weaned from a bottle on to a cup.

Your GP will give you further advice about the treatment for glue ear.


We are indebted to Health Promotion England for their help in compiling this section.