Ear Pain

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What is it?  

Earache is common medical problem for children and adults.  

There are many disorders of the ear that require clinical care by a physician or other healthcare professional.  


These include:

  • Ear wax blockage

  • Mastoiditis

  • Middle Ear infection

  • Myringitis

  • Tinnitus

  • Otitis Externa (Swimmer’s Ear)

  • Ottis Media

  • Ruptured ear drum  


What causes it?  

Ear pain usually results from inflammation and swelling of the structures that make up the ear.  

This includes the external auditory canal, the tympanic membrane, and the middle ear.  

Myringitis, an inflammation of the tympanic membrane or ear drum, may be due to localized infection or trauma.  

Otitis externa is commonly caused by trapped moisture in the ear canal or by minor injury to the ear canal.  

Otitis media is caused by either a viral or bacterial infection of the middle ear. It often follows a cold or upper respiratory tract infection that causes inflammation of the Eustachian tube and prevents normal fluid drainage from the middle ear.  


Common treatments  

Earaches should be evaluated by a health care practitioner, but symptomatic pain treatment is often provided at home before a medical evaluation.  

Home remedies may include analgesics such as paracetomol and anti-inflammatory medications (eg ibuprofen/nurofen) – if approved for use by your physician.  

A warm compress to the ear may also help with pain control.  

Most otitis media will resolve with symptomatic care including pain control, good hydration, and humidity.  

Myringitis and otitis externa nearly always require medical care. It may be difficult to distinguish between the different types of ear infection without seeking medical care.  

Pain that lasts for a few hours or increases in intensity should be evaluated by a medical professional.  

And you should also seek medical help for earache associated with hearing loss, unexplained fever or general sickness.  

Infants under the age of eight weeks who develop a fever should be taken for medical care immediately.  

Most earaches can be relieved after 1 to 2 days of treatment.  

But ear infections may return if only partially treated, so it is important not to stop the course of treatment even though symptoms are no longer apparent.  

Ear infections can cause further complications including recurrent pain, fever, loss of hearing, nausea, or vertigo. In such cases a hearing test may be required.  

Ruptured eardrums may require referral to an ear, nose, and throat specialist. 

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About Pain does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment