Ear Pain: What to do until the morning comes

Treat the pain

These two can be used together.  They are different drugs.  You can use them alternately every 3 hours BUT keep track of what drug you gave when.  Acetaminophen can be dangerous if used incorrectly-- it should not be given more than every 4 hours.


Since most ear infections should take place in the setting of an upper respiratory infection, a medication like Benadryl may be helpful.  Plus, and probably more importantly, its side effect in most children is sleep.  The dosing chart is here.

Elevate your child's head

 If you lay flat on your back, the blood pressure in your veins can cause pain in the ears.

Warm compresses (or cold, whatever works)

Important things to consider

 Going to the ER in the middle of the night is hardly ever necessary.  All the ER can do is give you a prescription for antibiotics but antibiotics take about 48 hours to kick in for pain relief with ear infections. And, about 80% of ear infections go away by themselves, without intervention, in about 5 days.  The mainstay of treatment, therefore, is pain relief.

What if the eardrum ruptures?

You will see goo coming out of the ear canal, and sometimes blood.  It's mother nature's way of taking care of the pus build up behind the drum.  It's not a bad thing--the kids usually feel much better when it happens.  The eardrum will heal by itself in about a month, but until it does, the kids have hard time hearing, as if their ear is "under water."  It's not an emergency.  I usually just give drops for the ear when I see you in the office, and recheck the eardrum in a month to see if it has healed properly.

ear infections and antibiotics

ear infection prevention