Earache & tonsillitis

Earache & tonsillitis

A baby’s ears need to be treated with care

Ear infections, which can result in earache, are common in babies and toddlers. They often follow a cold and can sometimes cause a temperature. A child may pull at their ear, but babies often cannot tell where their pain is coming from, so they just cry and seem generally uncomfortable.

Babies have some natural protection against infections in the first few weeks - this is boosted by breastfeeding. In babies and toddlers, bacteria pass from the nose to the ears more easily. Ear infections can be painful and your child may just need extra cuddles and painkillers (such as sugar-free paracetamol or ibuprofen) from the pharmacist. Your child may have swollen glands in their neck - this is the body’s way of fighting infection.

Tonsillitis - earache can also be caused by tonsillitis (the inflammation of the tonsils). It is a common type of infection in children. Symptoms include a sore throat, earache and a high temperature. It is not a serious illness and you only need to see your GP if symptoms become serious with significant pain, persistent temperature, breathing difficulties.

To reduce ear infections

  • A baby’s ears need to be treated with care.

  • Never use a cotton bud inside your child’s ear.

  • If they have a temperature, wax may ooze out.

  • Use different, clean damp cotton wool on each ear to gently clean around the outer area.

  • Avoid smoky environments.

  • Do not use ear drops or oil unless prescribed by your GP.

  • If your child is still not hearing six weeks after infection, your GP or health visitor can refer them to audiology for further investigations.

What are the signs of an ear infection?

The signs are a raised temperature, general irritability and pain or discomfort. The ears may be red and your baby may pull them because they are uncomfortable. They may even have a pus-like discharge, which can also be associated with a blocked feeling in the ear or hearing loss. Although most ear infections settle down without any serious effects, there can be mild hearing loss for a short time (two to three weeks).


My toddler has earache or a sore throat but seems otherwise well.


Have you tried sugar-free paracetamol or ibuprofen from your pharmacist? (See know the basics)


Most ear infections get better by themselves. Speak to your GP if symptoms show no sign of improvement after 24 hours, your child seems in a lot of pain or you notice fluid coming from the ear.