NHS Service

What Causes Earache And How Can You Relieve It?

What causes earache and how can you relieve it

Earaches can be an uncomfortable and often painful condition affecting children and adults. Although commonly associated with children, ear pain occurs in individuals of all ages and has various causes. Understanding these causes and the effective ways to relieve ear pain can help manage this discomfort more effectively.

What are the Causes of Earache?

Several factors can contribute to the development of an earache, ranging from common infections to more serious conditions. Understanding the causes of earache can help in managing and treating this condition effectively.

  • Infection: The leading cause of earaches in children and adults is an ear infection. These can be divided into outer ear infections (otitis externa) and middle ear infections (otitis media). Otitis externa, often referred to as swimmer’s ear, involves the ear canal and is typically caused by water remaining in the ear, creating a moist environment that fosters bacterial growth. Otitis media is an infection of the middle ear, which often follows a cold or respiratory infection. Fluid and pus build up behind the eardrum, causing pain and sometimes temporary hearing loss.
  • Pressure Changes: Changes in atmospheric pressure can lead to discomfort and pain in the ear. This condition, known as barotrauma, commonly affects individuals during airplane takeoffs and landings or while scuba diving.
  • Sinus Infections: These infections can cause pressure to build up in the sinus cavities, which can impact the ears and cause significant earache.
  • Wax Buildup: Excessive buildup of earwax can block the ear canal leading to pain, discomfort and even temporary hearing loss.
  • Foreign Objects: Especially common in children, the insertion of small items into the ear can cause significant pain and potential damage.
  • Throat Infections: Infections such as tonsillitis or pharyngitis can lead to referred pain in the ear due to shared nerve pathways.
  • Teeth and Jaw Problems: Issues such as impacted molars, dental abscesses or temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ) can also manifest pain that radiates into the ears.

What are the Symptoms of Earache?

Earache or ear pain, can be a distressing symptom that may be accompanied by various other symptoms depending on the underlying cause. Understanding these associated symptoms can help in identifying the cause of the earache and seeking appropriate treatment. Here are some common symptoms:

  • Sharp, sudden pain or a dull, continuous feeling of discomfort
  • A feeling of fullness or pressure in the ear
  • Fever (often in conjunction with infections)
  • Drainage from the ear
  • Difficulty hearing
  • Dizziness or loss of balance

What Effective Treatment Options are Available?

While the treatment for an earache depends on the underlying cause, there are several home remedies and medical treatments that can help alleviate the pain and discomfort. Here are some common methods for earache relief and treatment:

  • Pain Relievers: Over-the-counter pain medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help reduce pain and fever associated with ear infections.
  • Warm Compresses: Applying a warm cloth around the affected ear can help alleviate pain.
  • Ear Drops: If the pain is due to inflammation or infection, antiseptic or antibiotic ear drops prescribed by a doctor can be effective. However, ear drops should not be used if there is any sign of ear drum rupture, such as fluid drainage from the ear.
  • Decongestants and Nasal Sprays: If ear pain is related to sinus or nasal congestion, decongestants and nasal sprays may help reduce swelling and ease the pressure.
  • Proper Ear Hygiene: Regular cleaning and drying of the ears, especially after swimming or bathing, can prevent water accumulation and reduce the risk of infections.
  • Avoid Inserting Objects: Avoid using cotton swabs or other objects to clean the inside of the ears, as these can push wax further into the ear canal or damage the eardrum.

Get Prompt Relief from Earachewith Pharmacy First

Earaches are a common ailment with a variety of causes, but with the right approach, they can often be effectively managed and resolved. Knowing when to treat at home and when to seek medical attention can prevent complications and hasten recovery.

If you’re dealing with persistent earache and need professional advice schedule an appointment with us at Touchwood Pharmacy. We’re here to help you get the relief you need. Click here to book your consultation now.