The advice on this page is not exhaustive and should not be used to self-diagnose, but it may give you an idea as to what might be causing your ear condition. Always ask your pharmacist or GP for advice.

Ear Pain – What is it?

Ear pain and earache is common, particularly in young children. It can be painful, but is not usually a sign of anything serious.


Earache can be a sharp, dull or burning ear pain that comes and goes or is constant. One or both ears may be affected. How long ear ache lasts depends on what’s causing it. 

Spotting earache in babies and young children

A young child might have earache if they:

  • rub or pull their ear
  • do not react to some sounds
  • have a temperature of 38°C or above
  • are irritable or restless
  • are off their food
  • keep losing their balance

Earache and ear pain can affect one or both ears.



Earache and ear pain can be caused by many things, but sometimes it’s not known by what. The information below shows some of the most common causes of earache and ear pain. It does not include every possible cause, but outlines some of the most common reasons. (source:

The information below should not be used to self-diagnose your condition, but it may give you an idea as to what might be causing your earache or ear pain.


How to treat earache and ear pain yourself

There are some things you can do to help relieve earache and ear pain.

According to NHS UK guidelines




Your pharmacist may be able to recommend over-the-counter eardrops for your earache, but let them know your symptoms and ask for their advice first.

A pharmacist might be able to tell you:

  • what you can do to treat earache yourself
  • if you can buy anything to help (for example, eardrops such as Cl-ear Ear Relief Ear Drops
  • if you need to see a GP

See a GP if you or your child:

  • have earache for more than 3 days
  • keep getting earache
  • have swelling around the ear
  • have fluid coming from the ear
  • have hearing loss or a change in hearing
  • have something stuck in the ear
  • your child is under 2 and has earache in both ears