Earaches typically occur more often in children but they can also occur in adults. This condition can affect one ear or both. The condition can be persistent or can come and go. As for the pain, it can be dull, burning or harsh. If an individual has an ear infection, fever and transitory hearing loss can occur. Young children who have ear infections can be short-tempered and fussy as well as tug or rub their ears.
Common causes of earaches
Earaches can be caused by infection, injury or irritation in the ear. In some cases, earaches can be caused by referred pain. Referred pain is a type of pain that is felt in a different location other than the site of injury or infection. Take note that pain that originated in the teeth or jaw can be felt in the ear.
- Ear infection
- Buildup of ear wax
- Changes in the pressure
- Sore throat
- Foreign object present in the ear
- Sinus infection
- Using cotton swabs in the ear
- Water or shampoo in the ear
Less common causes of earaches
- Impacted tooth
- Temporomandibular joint syndrome
- Eardrum that is perforated
- Arthritis that affects the jaw
- Tooth infection
- Eczema in the ear canal
- Trigeminal neuralgia
When to see a doctor
In case the individual or the child is suffering from persistent fever of 104 F or higher, it is best to seek medical attention. Infants with fever higher than 101 F should seek medical assistance right away. It is also best to seek immediate medical attention if severe pain suddenly stops since this can indicate rupture of the eardrum. If the following symptoms are present, consult a doctor right away.
- Severe ear pain
- Drooping of the facial muscles
- Swelling around the ear
- Blood or pus draining from the ear
In case the earache becomes worse or does not improve in 24-48 hours, schedule an appointment with your doctor.
How to treat earaches at home
There are certain first aid measures that you can perform at home in order to reduce the earache pain.
- Apply a cold washcloth to the affected ear
- Avoid getting the ear wet
- Instruct the individual to sit in an upright position to relieve the ear pressure
- Provide over-the-counter ear drops or pain relievers
- Provide chewing gum to help relieve pressure
- For infants, provide feeding to help relieve pressure
How to prevent earaches
Some earaches can be prevented with the help of these preventive measures:
- Avoid smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke
- Always dry the ears after bathing or swimming
- Do not put foreign objects in the ears
- Avoid allergy triggers such as pollen and dust
Earaches can be prevented, but if one occurs, it is best to watch out for the symptoms and if severe pain is present, it is important to seek immediate medical care.