Perhaps the most common ear problem is the development of a sudden infection. This will produce a very painful ear, and may be heralded by an increased temperature, the child holding or pulling his ear, and after a day or two, reduced hearing capacity.
It frequently follows on from a simple head cold, with which there may have been much sneezing. The germs can quickly track up the eustachian tube into the inner ear, and lodge there.
Treatment of any ear infection is essential. If left, deafness (usually non-permanent, but it can last for some weeks) may occur. Also, there is the definite added risk that meningitis and more serious brain infections can follow.
Often a few drops of warm olive oil in the ear will help reduce the pain of an ear infection. But get prompt medical assistance. Antibiotics are usually necessary. Antipyretics are often given as well. Paracetamol elixir (consult label for dose) can help reduce elevated temperatures and pain.
Foreign bodies in the ears are common. Most are pushed there by the infant. An enormous range is possible (beads, dried peas, bits of plastic from toys, ends of pens, etc). These may remain there, or produce symptoms (deafness or infection) from their presence.
Do not fiddle yourself. Unless it can be removed easily, see the doctor. He has special “instruments” and can usually lift the foreign body out promptly without damaging the ear canal.