A: Ear infections can be very painful for kids because of the pressure building in the middle ear (hence, the increased crying and occasional temper tantrums). Regardless of whether your kid is taking antibiotics -- most doctors prefer to see if an ear infection will pass on its own before prescribing them -- most doctors recommend using pain relievers like children's acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) to soothe discomfort, especially in the first 24 hours. (Children should never take aspirin, which contains ingredients that can cause Reye's syndrome, a rare but potentially fatal condition in children and teenagers.) For natural relief, try pressing a warm (not hot) washcloth on the ear, which can help mask the pain and distract your child. Your doctor may also prescribe ear drops with benzocaine, which can help ease pain by temporarily numbing the ear. Ear drops of any kind should not be used if the eardrum has ruptured, however -- unless a doctor prescribes them. --Alisa Stoudt
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