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What is ear pain?

Ear pain, also referred to as earache, is a common symptom of different medical conditions. It can affect anybody from any age group. The pain in most cases is not suggestive of something serious, but severe pain must be investigated.

What are its main associated signs and symptoms?

Ear pain is often accompanied by other common signs and symptoms and in itself, is a symptom of some disease. Ear pain can be dull or faint or severe or sharp. Some of the common symptoms accompanying ear pain are:

  • Blockage in the ear
  • Disturbed hearing
  • Problems in balancing
  • Due to discomfort, the person may also have sleep problems
  • Though not very common, children may complain of fluid running out of their ear
  • Fever
  • Coughing and cold

What are the main causes?

In most common cases, pain in the ear occurs because of an infection or an injury. The infection can be of the ear canal (also known as otitis externa) or of the middle ear (also called otitis media).

Commonly, ear pain can be caused due to:

  • Varying air pressure (especially during flights)
  • Excessive use of cotton swabs for ears
  • Earwax build-up
  • Trapped shampoo or water in the ear

Ear pain, rarely, is caused due to:

  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome
  • Teeth with braces
  • Defective eardrums (such as perforations)

How is it diagnosed and treated?

In case you experience some of the above-outlined symptoms, it means you must go and see a doctor. For an effective diagnosis, the doctor will physically examine.

In order to confirm if the illness is due to a bacterial or viral infection, the doctor might sample some fluid from the eardrum.

Depending on the severity of the infection or the pain, the doctor may suggest different care measures to relieve the ear pain. Some of them will include:

  • Use of over-the-counter pain relievers to overcome the constant debilitating pain.
  • You could also be suggested to try warm compresses or heat therapy. You could dip a cloth in warm water and softly hold it against your affected ear.
  • In case of severe infection and fluid discharge, you may also be prescribed to take some ear drops.
  • In case of pressure imbalance, you may also be suggested to simply try chewing a gum. It will help you relieve the pressure and reduce pain.
  1. Medicines for Ear Pain
  2. Doctors for Ear Pain
Dr. Chintan Nishar

Dr. Chintan Nishar

कान, नाक और गले सम्बन्धी विकारों का विज्ञान

Dr. K. K. Handa

Dr. K. K. Handa

कान, नाक और गले सम्बन्धी विकारों का विज्ञान

Dr. Aru Chhabra Handa

Dr. Aru Chhabra Handa

कान, नाक और गले सम्बन्धी विकारों का विज्ञान

References

  1. Health Navigator. [Internet]. New Zealand. Earache.
  2. Alberta Children's Hospital. [Internet]. Alberta Health Services; Edmonton, Alberta. Ear Pain.
  3. National Health Service [Internet] NHS inform; Scottish Government; Earache
  4. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: US National Library of Medicine; Ear Infections
  5. Center for Disease Control and Prevention [internet], Atlanta (GA): US Department of Health and Human Services; Ear Infection

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