How to check if a child’s ears hurt: methods of determination and main symptoms

Diagnosis is a difficult, responsible task that requires a high qualification of the attending physician and the patient’s complete frankness. The situation is complicated several times when an unknown ailment disturbs the infant, who, due to his age, cannot yet tell about his feelings, but there are no external signs of the disease. One such problem for diagnosing conditions is ear pain. In order not to miss a dangerous disease and provide the baby with timely help, you need to know how to check if the child’s ears hurt.

It is important to protect your child’s ears in windy weather

Causes of Ear Pain in Children

The causes that caused pain in the ears can be both external irritants and various diseases of a viral or bacterial nature.

External factors:

  • foreign body ingestion;
  • traumatic injury (shock);
  • burn;
  • animal bite;
  • stinging insect;
  • rupture of the eardrum (often due to improper cleaning of the ears with a cotton swab);
  • strong wind;
  • accumulation of sulfur (sulfur plug);
  • getting into the ears of water (often there are complaints that the child’s ear hurts after bathing).

Diseases causing ear pain:

  • viral, fungal and bacterial infections;
  • cold;
  • chronic respiratory diseases (tonsillitis, bronchitis, pneumonia);
  • complications after previous illnesses of the upper respiratory tract, oral cavity (caries, tonsillitis);
  • cerebrovascular accident;
  • decreased or increased intracranial, blood pressure;
  • inflammatory processes in the Eustachian tube;
  • otitis;
  • violation of the structure of the nerve endings responsible for hearing.

Any of these conditions is hazardous to health, so it is important to know how to determine if a child’s ears hurt in order to prevent complications.

Signs of an earache in a baby

A newborn child cannot tell parents and a doctor what exactly bothers him. Therefore, often an inexperienced mother has a question, how to check whether the child’s ears hurt up to a year.

The child often cries, sleeps poorly and eats

Signs of ear pain in infants:

  • poor appetite;
  • anxiety, crying during feeding;
  • possible release of yellow fluid from the auricle;
  • hyperthermia;
  • bad, intermittent sleep;
  • the baby constantly scratches, rubs the ear, tries to lie on it.

There is a surefire way to check if a child’s ears hurt and cannot report his problem himself. It is necessary with your finger to slightly press on the cartilage near the beginning of the auditory meatus. If the child’s crying intensifies and he tries to remove his hand, then it’s really in the ears.

How to understand what hurts an ear in an older child

It is much easier to diagnose a baby who can speak and may complain of pain and discomfort. But in such a situation, it is also important to distinguish between ear pain and toothache or headache.

The child constantly touches sore ears

Symptoms of ear pain in a child who can speak:

  • complaints of tingling or severe pain in the ears (depending on the cause);
  • sometimes the localization of pain remains not fully understood, the child may indicate pain in the tooth area;
  • pain occurs with sharp turns of the head;
  • the baby, like a newborn, can wake up several times at night, complain of itching in the ear, try to rub it;
  • capricious behavior.

Parents should remember that the sensation of earache is similar to toothache, therefore, in order not to make the crumb suffer, you should consult a doctor immediately.

Ways to alleviate the condition

If a child has noticed one of the above signs, the only right solution would be to immediately seek help from specialists. But what if alarming symptoms were found on a day off or late in the evening? In the most critical situations, when there is an increase in temperature, severe pain and purulent discharge, it is recommended to call an ambulance. In other cases, you can try to temporarily alleviate the condition of the baby.

With severe pain and hyperthermia, you can give your child an antipyretic and analgesic

The first actions in case of ear pain in a child:

  • give the baby an analgesic and antipyretic agent (at temperatures above 38-38.5 ° C);
  • drip the nose with vasoconstrictive drops even in the absence of a runny nose (necessary to relieve swelling);
  • give the baby water regularly;
  • insert tampons moistened with boric acid or special drops (for example, Otipax) into the ears;
  • turn to ENT.

If the child’s ear hurts, the pain medication should not be used as a treatment, but as a temporary measure to alleviate the condition before going to the doctor.

Prohibited Manipulation

In the desire to help the child get rid of suffering, the main thing is not to harm him. Doctors give some advice on what should not be done so as not to aggravate the problem.

What should not be done with pain in the ears of a child:

  • refuse to visit a doctor;
  • take painkillers immediately before going to the doctor or ambulance - this will not allow the doctor to see all the symptoms in full;
  • independently try to get a foreign body, if the cause of the pain is in it;
  • warm the ear, do alcohol compresses while releasing pus from the ear;
  • ignore the appointment of antibiotics and other medications;
  • be treated exclusively with traditional medicine.

Self-medication is not acceptable even for adult patients. In the case of a child, the abandonment of traditional methods of treatment can lead to irreparable consequences up to hearing loss.

Diagnostic Methods

Most often, doctors do not have a question, how to understand whether a child’s ear hurts. In medicine, there are a number of diagnostic procedures for this.

Otoscope examination of the ear

For the diagnosis of ear pain, it is used:

  • history taking (the doctor must understand the patient’s immunity state, know what he has been sick with lately);
  • examination of the auricle (in the case of a foreign body getting in, this manipulation is enough);
  • examination of the ear using a special otoscope device (relevant for assessing the condition of the eardrum, the outer ear, the ear canal);
  • temperature measurement (for infectious diseases, the thermometer can exceed 39 ° C);
  • blood and urine tests (to determine the inflammatory process in the body);
  • examination of the oral cavity, nasal passages;
  • in case of traumatic injury, additional diagnostic methods (x-ray, computed tomography) can be used.

When the doctor confirms that the pain in the baby is caused precisely by a problem with the ear, it is necessary to strictly adhere to all prescriptions and continue treatment even in case of relief of the condition in order to avoid relapse.

Drug treatment

If there is any infection in the child’s body or a catarrhal disease, a common ear disease such as otitis media can develop as a complication. It is this disease that often requires medical treatment.

Means used to treat ear pain:

  • antibiotics (for infectious disease, inflammatory process);
  • vasoconstrictor drugs in the nose (Nazivin, Nazol, and so on);
  • ear drops (your doctor chooses depending on the symptoms);
  • alcohol compress and warming procedures on the ear (in the absence of purulent discharge);
  • when cleaning the ear of sulfuric plugs, peroxide, paraffin oil are used;
  • fungal infections are treated with hydrogen peroxide, Vishnevsky ointment.
With ear pain, body temperature may rise

It is important to remember that any, even the most innocuous, drug should be prescribed by a professional.


After consultation with a doctor, traditional treatment can be combined with traditional medicine methods. Self-administration of folk remedies can lead to serious complications.

Unconventional methods of treating ear pain in children:

  • bury cedar, walnut or sea buckthorn oil one drop three times a day in a sore ear;
  • bury the ears with a composition of honey and propolis mixed in a 1: 1 ratio (also three times a day, but two drops each);
  • rinse ears with chamomile broth.

In order for the treatment to bring the desired result, it is important not to stop it in the event of the disappearance of symptoms, but to continue the procedure for several more days.

Preventative measures

All parents want to protect their child from pain and suffering. Ear pain is no exception.

To prevent the occurrence of pain in the baby’s ears and to avoid complications, it is necessary:

  • know how to check if the child’s ears are sore for timely medical attention;
  • strengthen the immunity of the child;
  • if possible, support breastfeeding (feeding in infancy with mixtures increases the risk of otitis more than 2 times);
  • avoid head injuries;
  • treat the most minor colds in time so that there are no complications;
  • protect the baby’s ears with a hat in windy weather;
  • thoroughly dry the ears after bathing;
  • use cotton buds with caution to clean the ears (it is not recommended to clean the ear canals with them).
Only the outer part of the auricle can be cleaned with ear sticks.

In order to see a doctor on time and prevent dangerous consequences, parents need to understand how to find out if the child’s ear hurts. In case of confirmation of fears, you need to call a pediatrician or ambulance, and while waiting for specialists, try to reassure the baby by watching cartoons and reading books.


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