Earaches (otalgia, pain in ear, ear pain) normally occur in children, however they can happen in adults as well. An earache might affect one or both ears, however the majority of the time it remains in one ear. It might be continuous or reoccur, and the pain might be dull, sharp, or burning.
An earache is a sharp, dull, or burning pain in one or both ears. The pain may last a short time or be ongoing. Associated conditions consist of:
- Otitis media
- Swimmer’s ear
- Malignant otitis externa
Symptoms and Signs of Earaches in Adults
The symptoms of an ear infection may consist of:
- Ear pain
- Increased crying
Numerous adults will have minor hearing loss during or right after an ear infection. Most of the time the problem disappears. Long lasting hearing loss is unusual, however the risk increases with the variety of infections.
Causes of Earaches in Adults
The eustachian tube runs from the middle part of each ear to the back of the throat. This tube drains pipes fluid that is made in the center ear. If the eustachian tube ends up being obstructed, fluid can build up. This may result in press behind the eardrum or an ear infection.
Ear pain in adults is less most likely to be from an ear infection. Pain that you feel in the ear may be coming from another location, such as your teeth, the joint in your jaw (temporomandibular joint), or your throat. This is called “referred” pain.
Causes of ear pain may consist of:
- Arthritis of the jaw
- Short-term ear infection
- Long-lasting ear infection
- Ear injury from pressure changes (from high altitudes and other causes).
- Object stuck in the ear or buildup of ear wax.
- Hole in the eardrum.
- Sinus infection.
- Sore throat.
- Temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ).
- Tooth infection.
Ear pain in a child or infant may be due to infection. Other causes might consist of:
- Ear canal inflammation from cotton-tipped swabs.
- Soap or shampoo staying in the ear.
Home Care for Pain in Ear
The following steps may help to cure an earache in adult:
- Place a cold pack or cold damp washcloth on the external ear for 20 minutes to lower pain.
- Chewing might assist relieve the pain and pressure of an ear infection.
- Resting in an upright position instead of resting can minimize pressure in the middle ear.
- Over the counter ear drops can be used to relieve pain, as long as the eardrum has actually not ruptured.
- Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, can provide relief for children and grownups with an earache.
For ear pain brought on by a change of altitude, such as on an airplane:
- Swallow or chew gum as the airplane comes down.
- Enable babies to draw on a bottle or breastfeed.
The following actions can assist avoid earaches:
- Avoid external ear infections by not putting items in the ear.
- Dry the ears well after bathing or swimming.
- Take steps to manage allergies. Attempt to prevent allergy triggers.
- Attempt a steroid nasal spray to assist minimize ear infections. (However, over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants DO NOT prevent ear infections.)
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care service provider if:
- You have a high fever, severe pain, or appears sicker than is normal for an ear infection.
- You have new symptoms such as dizziness, headache, swelling around the ear, or weakness in the face muscles.
- Severe pain suddenly stops (this might be a sign of a burst eardrum).
- Symptoms (pain, fever, or irritability) become worse or do not improve within 24 to 48 hours.
What to Expect at Your Office Visit
The supplier will do a physical exam and take a look at the ear, nose, and throat areas. Pain, tenderness, or soreness of the mastoid bone behind the ear on the skull is often a sign of a severe infection.