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Earache

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Definition

Earache or ear pain is the sensation of pain in the ear. This pain may be sharp, dull, burning, transient or constant.

  • A cold or allergy can block the narrow tube that drains the middle ear into the nasal passages. This results in the prevention of normal flow of fluid which then begins to buildup.
  • Earache is caused by an accumulation of fluid in the middle ear. This fluid exerts pressure on the eardrum, resulting in stuffiness, pain and hearing loss.

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Causes

  • Obstruction of the outer ear (due to a foreign object or ear wax)
  • Infection of the outer or inner ear
  • Acute or chronic otitis media
  • Chronic otitis externa
  • Acute barotrauma e.g. high altitudes, airplane travel
  • Ruptured or perforated eardrum
  • Tooth infection
  • Sinus infection
  • Arthritis of the jaw
  • Sore throat (pharyngitis, tonsillitis)

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Symptoms

  • Fever
  • Ear pain
  • Irritability
  • Discharge from the ear which may contain pus
  • Deafness in the affected ear if the eardrum is ruptured

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What You Can Do

  • Medications
    • Oral
      • Antibiotics - Broad spectrum antibiotics may be prescribed by your physician.
      • Analgesics - Over-the-counter analgesics such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can provide partial pain relief.
    • Nose Drops - Antihistamines or decongestant nose drops may help to decrease the amount of nasal secretion and shrink the mucous membranes.
    • Ear Drops - Severe earache may require analgesic eardrops, which can be prescribed by your physician.

  • Home Remedies
    • If ear drops cannot be obtained, 2 or 3 drops of olive oil or another plain cooking oil may be used as long as there is NO ear discharge, NO ear tubes in place or hole in the eardrum.
    • Use a vaporizer as it can thin the mucous by adding moisture and humidity to the nasal secretions.
    • A cold pack or cold wet wash cloth applied to the outer ear for 20 minutes 2-3 times a day may reduce pain.

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Earache