Advice for parents and carers after remote assessment for earache
Ear infections are extremely common in children They are caused by either an infection of the middle ear that causes inflammation and a build-up of fluid (otitis media) or by an infection of the skin of the ear canal (otitis externa). Otitis externa is also known as ‘swimmers ear’ because it occurs more commonly when water enters the ear canal. Although most children with otitis media and otitis externa need no specific treatment, they will need to seen by a healthcare professional if they have pus coming out of their ear, in order to decide if treatment is required.
Symptoms of otitis media:
In most cases, the symptoms of otitis media develop quickly and get better by themselves in a few days.In some cases, pus may run out of the ear, this is the fluid that had built up behind the ear drum causing a small hole in the eardrum; this tends to heal up by itself.
Symptoms of otitis externa:
If your child has any of the following:
Develops double vision or blurred vision
Go to the nearest Hospital Emergency (A&E) Department or phone 999
Severe headache persisting despite regular painkillers (ibuprofen and paracetamol) or worse on lying down / in morning
Please ring your GP surgery or contact NHS 111 - dial 111 or for children aged 5 years and above visit 111.nhs.uk
If none of the above features are present
Continue providing your child’s care at home. If you are still concerned about your child, contact NHS 111 – dial 111 or for children aged 5 years and above visit 111.nhs.uk
Most children with earache do no require treatment with antibiotics. Antibiotics rarely speed up recovery and often cause side effects such as rash and diarrhoea. They will also promote the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria in your child.
Antibiotics are usually only considered if your child:
In addition, if your child has any features of severe infection (amber or red features above), they will need to be urgently assessed by a healthcare professional
You can help relieve symptoms by:
It is not possible to prevent ear infections; however, you can do things that may reduce your child’s chances of developing the condition.
This guidance is written by healthcare professionals from across Hampshire, Dorset and the Isle of Wight.