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Earaches – Causes, Symptoms and Home Treatment

Earaches are very common especially among kids, but they can occur in adults too. The pain can be consistent or irregular. Pain may be in one ear or in both. Not every earache means you have an infection, as there are many conditions that can cause ear pain.

What causes earaches?

The causes of ear pain vary between adults and children. Usually, children up to the age of two are very sensitive and tend to suffer from earaches and infections. It improves with age and if there are no special problems, the frequency of ear pain decreases.

Among adults, the most common causes include:

  • Earwax
  • Dental problems
  • Grinding teeth
  • Air pressure
  • Sore throat
  • Sinusitis
  • Middle ear infection
  • Swimmer’s ear infection
  • Irritation
  • A foreign object

What are the symptoms of earaches?

Earaches are painful, and the pain can be sometimes unbearable. It is important that you notice your symptoms in order to get medical treatment if needed.

Symptoms depend upon the cause of the pain, but they usually include:

  • Ear pain
  • Jaw pain
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Swelling of the outer ear
  • Drainage from the ear
  • Hearing impairment
  • Vertigo

How to relieve pain in the ears?

In some cases, there is no need for medical treatment, and pain can certainly be alleviated with home care.

  • Warm compress: heat helps relieve pain and reduce swelling. Soak a washcloth in hot water, squeeze and wrap it in another cloth so it is not too hot or too wet. Place it against the ear.
  • Olive oil: Slightly heat olive oil (not too much, beware of burns), drip it into the ear and seal it in with a cotton wool ball. The hot oil will help calm the pain.
  • Feed an infant: to relive their pressure.
  • Chew gum: to relieve your pressure.

How to prevent earaches?

Keeping your ears dry is not an easy task, but it is extremely helpful in preventing earaches. Make sure you dry your ears after bathing or swimming. You may use silicone earplugs to keep them dry during wet activities. It's also important that you cover your ears in cold weather to keep them warm and dry.

Also, you don’t have to clean your ears with cotton swabs! The ear has a self-cleaning mechanism, as the wax is supposed to come out on its own. All you need to do is to clean the outer ear with a towel after leaving the bathroom.

When should you visit our urgent care?

In some cases, earaches go away on their own, but some cases do require seeing a doctor.

In babies under one year, seek immediate medical care if they suffer from a fever higher than 101F. For older kids and adults, seek immediate attention for a fever of 104F.

More symptoms that require urgent medical care:

  • Severe pain, especially if it stops all of a sudden
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Facial muscles drooping
  • Blood or pus drainage