An earache can be a sharp, dull, or burning pain in one or both ears. The pain may be temporary or constant. Earaches are commonly associated with other conditions, the most common being an ear infection.
Causes of Earaches
An appropriate workup to investigate the common causes earaches is required to initiate proper treatment.
- Inflammation and infections accounts for the vast majority of earaches.
- Internal or external obstruction of the ear, such as swollen adenoids or foreign bodies in the ear.
- Ear injury from pressure changes (from high altitudes and other causes)
- Object stuck in the ear or severely impacted ear wax
- Irritation due to cotton-tipped swabs
- Soap or shampoo in the ear canal which is irritating.
- Ear Infections (Otitis media)
- Swimmer's ear
- Sore throat
- Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ)
- Dental caries
- Ruptured or perforated eardrum
The symptoms of an ear infection may include:
- Ear pain
- Increased crying
Many children will have temporary and minor hearing loss during or right after an ear infection. Permanent hearing loss is rare, but the risk increases with the number of infections.
Any earache that lasts more than a couple of days needs to be assessed by a naturopathic or medical doctor to determine appropriate treatment. Some naturopathic treatment recommendations include:
Home care strategies that may be beneficial include:
During an Earache
- A cold pack or cold wet wash cloth applied to the outer ear for 20 minutes may reduce pain.
- For some people, chewing gum may help relieve the pain and pressure of an ear infection.
- Avoid smoking around children.
- Do not put objects in the ear, including cotton-swab or Q-tips.
- Dry the ear after bathing or swimming.
- Take steps to control environmental allergies.
- Dietary recommendations include:
- Earache Medline Plus Accessed Augst 25th, 2012.