Earaches and ear pain

Causes, home remedies and treatment

What are earaches?

One of the most common types of ear pain, an earache is a condition that can affect people of all ages. It is typically the result of an infection within the ear, although a variety of other conditions may also leave you with sore ears. Earaches may affect one ear at a time or both ears at once, with the pain being intermittent, constant or a combination of the two. The intensity of the pain varies between cases too, from sharp pains in the ear to duller throbbing.

Earache symptoms through different ages

Although they may vary depending on the root cause, the most common symptoms that accompany earaches in adults include: ear pain, temporary hearing loss and also fluid draining from within the ear.

Children with earaches may experience additional symptoms, which can include:

  • A fever
  • Headaches
  • Issues with their balance
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • A feeling of fullness within the ear
  • Irritability
  • A loss of appetite

Causes of earaches besides ear infections

  • A buildup of ear wax within the ear
  • Sinus infections
  • Strep throat
  • Allergies
  • An injury
  • Exposure to loud noises
  • Water trapped within the ear
  • Foreign objects stuck inside the ear
  • A perforated eardrum
  • Dental issues, such as infected or impacted teeth
  • Arthritis of the jaw and other jaw issues
  • Changes in air pressure when flying
  • Temporomandibular joint syndrome
  • Trigeminal neuralgia

What to do in cases of earache?

In some cases, you can manage the symptoms of your earache at home by using over-the-counter painkillers and ear drops. Warm washcloths or heat packs may also provide relief when applied, while chewing gum and sleeping upright may assist in relieving any pressure felt within the ear. When dealing with any kind of ear infection or injury, it’s important to keep your ear dry when bathing.

Following some tips to help relieve the earache:

Home remedies

There are a few home remedies that may help relieve pain from earaches, including:

  • Using a cool or warm compress. Soak a washcloth in either cool or warm water, wring it out, and then put it over the ear that is in pain.
  • Lay your painful ear on a warm heating pad. Ensure it is not too hot. 

If your ear pain does not resolve on its own after a few days, medical intervention may be required.

Medical treatment

Antibiotics and ear drops may be prescribed by your GP if an infection is present, while excess ear wax may be removed if it is believed to be the cause of your pain. If your earache is caused by another issue, an appropriate treatment plan will be developed by your GP.

Seek medical attention for your earache if:

  • Your ear pain doesn’t go away or intensifies
  • You develop a fever
  • Discharge drains from your ears
  • You feel dizzy
  • You experience bad headaches
  • Swelling develops around the ear
  • You believe there is a foreign object inside your ear

In most cases, the symptoms of earaches are temporary, with any loss of hearing returning shortly after your ears are treated.

A woman wearing her earrings next to her hearing aid

Get in touch with Bay Audiology today

If you have any concerns about your hearing health, book an appointment at one of our clinics. Regular hearing checks are an important step in maintaining your overall health and wellness. Our online hearing test is a good place to start on your hearing health.

What causes earache?

Middle ear infections, also known as otitis media, often come about when bacteria from the respiratory tract, including your nose, throat and mouth, enters the ear. They can cause an uncomfortable build-up of fluid to develop behind the eardrum, which causes the pain you experience.

Outer ear infections, better known as otitis externa or swimmer’s ear, occur when the outer ear canal is wet for a long period of time, allowing bacteria to grow, or if the skin is irritated by hearing aids, headphones or other objects, leading to an infection.

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