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Earache is characterized by sharp pain in the ear which is common in both children and adults. The internal structures of the ear are vulnerable to infection which is the main reason behind earache.

Inflammation occurs in the following regions:

  • Myringitis- inflammation of ear drum
  • Otitis media: infection of middle ear and eardrum
  • Otitis externa: skin infection in the outer ear canal

Symptoms associated with Earache

  • Pain in internal and external air
  • Jaw pain  
  • Normal hearing impaired
  • Ringing in ear
  • High temperature 38 degree C or above
  • Cold, coughing, runny nose
  • Poor feeding in babies
  • Loss of balance
  • Irritation in behaviour
  • restlessness at night, disturbance in sleep
  • Swelling of ear
  • Thick mucus coming out from the ear
  • Vomiting and diarrhoea  

When to see a doctor?

If the pain persists for more than a day or two, then check with your ENT once. Seek immediate medical help if your child gets high fever, experiences stiffness in neck and the pain doesn’t subside.

Causes of Earache

Diagnosis of Earache

Diagnosis of earache is based on analysing the symptoms experienced by the individual. Your doctor will check your medical history and blood pressure as well

Depending on the initial physical exam, he can examine the ear drum with an otoscope to look for infections, inflammation and ear drum abnormalities. He will also manually check the inside of your ear for wax build up and infections.

X ray of the ear, Tympanometry, and audiology tests are also performed to rule out infections, check the function of ear drum and assess audible skills, respectively

Treatment of Earache

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The treatment is completely based on the underlying reason and diagnostic reports.

  • Infections are treated with antibiotics and pain is managed with OTC pain killers.
  • Ear drops are prescribed to soften wax build up as well as to combat pain.
  • If the pain is a side effect of tooth problem, sinus infection and throat infection, then the earache reduces with treatment of the primary cause
  • Incorporation of ear drum patch or surgery is the treatment option for eardrum rupture

Home Care and Precautions for Earache

  • Be very careful while cleaning you ear. Do not poke or dig deep with the ear bud
  • Stay away from smoking and tobacco products
  • Incorporate moist heat around the ear (like a hot towel) and compress the ear mildly
  • Use lukewarm olive oil to lubricate the ear
  • Try to breast feed your child as much as possible and take care of his/her feeding
  • Do not wet the ear till the pain disappears

Under any circumstance do not neglect the earache and wait for it to get complicated. Follow your doctor’s advice, take the necessary precautions and home care measures to get rid of the pain quickly.

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Written by: Saptakee sengupta

Date last updated: January 17, 2015


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