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What are the treatment options for children with ear problems?
The treatment that your child requires depends on the particular ear problem that they have.
For children with glue ear, there are a number of different treatment options available. Many outer ear infections clear up on their own without specific medication, but in some cases antibiotic treatment, in the form of tablets or eardrops, can be prescribed for bacterial infections. If your child has a boil (a hair follicle that has become infected) inside their ear, this will also often burst and heal itself within a few days.
Earache that is the result of damage to the ear, such as excessive cotton bud use, or poking the cotton bud too far into the ear so that it bursts the eardrum, does not often require medication. The sensitive and damaged area of the ear should heal on its own without treatment, although if the eardrum is burst this can take up to eight weeks. For most types of ear infection, general over the counter medicines such as paracetamol and ibuprofen can lower a child’s fever and provide pain relief to help them manage the symptoms of an ear infection.
A plug of hard earwax can also cause earache. If this is the case with your little one, it is important that you do not try and remove this yourself with a cotton bud. This can push the wax further inside, and may also burst the eardrum. Your doctor or pharmacist will be able to recommend an eardrop that will soften the wax in your child’s ear to help it fall out naturally.
If your child has earache and also finds it painful to swallow, they may also have tonsillitis or an abscess on the back of their throat. This is known as quinsy. Quinsy is a rare complication of tonsillitis that must be diagnosed and treated quickly to prevent the infection from spreading elsewhere in your child’s body and to prevent any possible breathing difficulties.
The majority of tonsillitis cases will clear up on their own without any medical treatment. However, bacterial tonsillitis may require a course of oral antibiotics after a diagnosis has been made.