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What’s the best thing for earache: Earache – causes and treatments


Types of ear infections: Causes, symptoms & how to get help

Your ear has been itchy ever since you swam in that smelly pool. Your toddler has been tugging on their ear for the last week. Your elderly mother, who’s just recovered from pneumonia, has ear pain and is feeling dizzy. Are these all signs of ear infections?

They can be. Different types of ear infections have varying symptoms and affect people in different ways. Read on for answers about ear pain, itchy ears, the difference between viral and bacterial ear infections, and more.

What causes an ear infection?

Ear infections start when fluid containing bacteria or viruses get trapped in your ear. Over time, these trapped germs can grow into an ear infection.

These germs often come from other illnesses that cause swelling and congestion in your nasal passages and throat. That’s why symptoms of ear infections can show up 2-7 days after the beginning of a cold or upper respiratory infection. But these germs can also come from water that you swim or bathe in.

Are ear infections contagious?

No, but viruses and bacteria that cause ear infections can spread from one person to another. In other words, you can’t give someone your ear infection, but you can spread the germs that caused it.

Can an ear infection be a sign of COVID-19?

There’s no clinical data that shows a connection between ear infections and COVID-19. However, it’s possible that newer strains of COVID-19 may affect people in different ways.

Although COVID-19 and ear infections can cause fever and headache, with COVID-19 you don’t usually get ear pain, hearing loss or fluid drainage from the ear. Also, keep in mind that it’s possible to get the flu and COVID-19 at the same time – and viral ear infections can sometimes be caused by the flu.

What are the symptoms of an ear infection?

Fluid and germs can get stuck in the outer, inner or middle part of the ear, causing different types of ear infections and symptoms.

Outer ear infections

An external ear infection is often referred to as swimmer’s ear. It’s possible for bacteria to grow in the water that’s left in your ear after swimming or bathing. This normally isn’t a problem. But, if you have a scratch or sore on your ear, it can lead to a bacterial infection.

Common outer ear infection symptoms
  • Redness on the outer ear
  • Itchiness
  • Ear pain and congestion
  • Yellow or yellow-green discharge
  • Swollen ear or neck
  • Hearing changes or loss
  • Fever, usually between 100-104 degrees Fahrenheit

Inner ear infections

This type of ear infection, also known as labyrinthitis, happens when your inner ear gets swollen or irritated because of a cold, flu, allergies or another condition such as meningitis.

Common inner ear infection symptoms
  • Dizziness, nausea and vomiting
  • Ear pain
  • Balance issues
  • Hearing changes or loss

Middle ear infections

Middle ear infections are known as otitis media. They are the most common type of ear infection, especially in children. Middle ear infections usually happen when the Eustachian tubes that connect your ears to your throat are swollen from a cold, flu or allergies.

When your Eustachian tubes are working normally, they drain fluid from the middle ear. But if they’re swollen because you’re sick, the fluid can’t drain. Instead, that fluid collects behind your eardrum and makes it more likely for germs to grow into an ear infection.

It’s also possible for swollen adenoids (lumps of tissue in the back of the nose) to prevent ear fluid from draining. If the adenoids are enlarged or irritated, they can block the opening of the Eustachian tubes.

Common middle ear infection symptoms
  • Ear pain
  • Fever, usually between 100-104 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Headaches
  • Fluid coming from the ear
  • Hearing changes or loss
  • Balance issues
  • Sore throat

Sometimes people can have symptoms of a middle ear infection such as hearing loss without actually having an infection. This is caused by inflammation and fluid buildup in the middle ear. Hearing usually goes back to normal once the fluid drains – which could take weeks. Learn about hearing tests and when to get them.

How can I tell if my infant or child has an ear infection?

If your little one has an ear infection, they won’t be able to tell you in words, but you’ll likely be able to tell through their actions. Chances are, they’ll:

  • Be fussy
  • Pull at their ears and cry
  • Have trouble sleeping
  • Have a fever, usually between 100-104 degrees Fahrenheit

How do you know if an ear infection is viral or bacterial?

It can be difficult to tell, at least in the beginning. If you or your child is recovering from a virus (cold or flu), it’s probably more likely you’re dealing with a viral ear infection. If strep throat or pneumonia has been in the house, there’s a greater chance that it’s bacterial. But that’s not always the case.

Symptoms are similar with viral and bacterial infections. One difference is you have a higher fever with a bacterial ear infection. However, fevers can also happen with viral infections.

Often, it’s a bit of a waiting game. If the ear infection goes away on its own within a week or so, you can assume it was caused by a virus. If it isn’t improving after a week, it might be a bacterial infection and you should definitely seek medical treatment.

Who is most likely to get an ear infection?

Anyone can get an ear infection. But you’re more likely to get ear infections if you have allergies or other conditions that cause congestion. You may also get more ear infections if you have a weakened immune system and are often sick.

A person’s anatomy can also increase their chance of getting an ear infection. That’s why ear infections are more common in young children and in people with birth defects or medical conditions, such as cleft palate or Down syndrome.

Ear infections in children

Why do children get ear infections?

Infants and young children between 3 months old and 3 years old are much more likely to get ear infections than adults. In fact, most children will have at least one ear infection. The main reasons are:

  • Differences in Eustachian tubes. These tubes in your ears are shorter and narrower when you’re younger, so it’s easier for them to become blocked. Additionally, the tubes in infants and young children are usually more horizonal than those in adults which means that it’s harder for fluid to drain.
  • Their developing immune system. When infants are about 6 months old, they start losing some of the immunity they were born with. At the same time, babies start becoming more social, sharing both toys and germs. Breastfeeding is one effective way to help strengthen your child’s immune system.
What can increase your child’s risk for ear infections?
  • Being exposed to cigarette smoke. Cigarette smoke irritates the Eustachian tubes and causes them to swell.
  • Lying flat while bottle feeding. Milk or formula can travel up the Eustachian tubes, causing irritation and swelling.
  • Pacifier use. Using a pacifier can affect how the Eustachian tubes work. But using a pacifier can be helpful in safe sleep for babies and preventing sudden infant death syndrome. So, talk to your doctor about when your baby should stop using a pacifier – most of the time it’s when they’re about 6 months old.
  • Being in a large childcare center. More kids mean more germs, making it more likely that your child could get repeat ear infections.

Ear infections in adults

What risk factors make certain adults more likely to get an ear infection?

Adults with weakened immune systems and certain medical conditions may be more likely to get ear infections. For example, if you have diabetes, it can cause an inflammatory response throughout your body – including your middle and inner ear. Having skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis may also increase the chance that you get an outer ear infection.

How long do ear infections last?

In many cases, ear infections clear up in a couple of weeks without treatment. But some ear infections can last for months.

So why do some ear infections last longer than others? The reasons include your health, the location of the infection and what’s causing the infection. Inner ear infections tend to stick around longer than infections of the middle or outer ear. And infections caused by bacteria usually last longer than ones caused by viruses.

When is an ear infection considered to be chronic?

If an ear infection lasts for more than three months, it’s considered chronic. If chronic ear infections aren’t treated, it can lead to hearing loss and other serious problems. In children, chronic ear infections can affect their ability to achieve developmental milestones, like walking and talking.

Is a chronic ear infection curable?

If your child has an ear infection for a few months and it’s affecting their ability to hear, your doctor may recommend a minor surgery to put in ear tubes for chronic ear infections.

During ear tube surgery, an ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor inserts small plastic or metal tubes into the eardrum. These tubes help drain the built-up fluid that can cause ear infections. Ear tubes usually fall out on their own within about a year.

What are recurring ear infections?

People of all ages can get frequent ear infections, but they are especially common in children – about 25% of children experience repeat ear infections. If you or your child has three or more ear infections in a six-month period or four within one year, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about treatment options.

Are recurrent ear infections curable?

Your doctor may recommend ear tube surgery to make it less likely for you or your child to get future ear infections.

Your doctor may also suggest a tonsillectomy as a treatment for infected tonsils and adenoids. This surgery involves removing lumps of tissue from the back of your nose and throat. Getting a tonsillectomy may make it easier for fluid to drain from your ears, reducing the chance of trapped fluid that can cause an ear infection. A tonsillectomy is usually only recommended when antibiotics and ear tubes don’t work.

What should I do about an ear infection?

If it’s only been a couple of days and the only symptom has been ear pain, you don’t need to head to the doctor right away. Because many ear infections go away on their own, it’s likely your doctor will want to wait and see how the symptoms improve before providing prescription medicines.

In the meantime, focus on getting lots of rest. Sleeping strengthens the immune system and helps the body fight off infections and other sickness.

If the ear infection is causing pain or discomfort, there are treatments for ear infections you can try at home. One of the simplest is using a warm compress to dull the pain. Just soak a washcloth in warm water, wring out the excess water and then hold it against the infected ear for up to 20 minutes. If it helps, reapply the compress throughout the day.

If your child is over 3 months old, an over-the-counter medication like acetaminophen (Tylenol) can also help with the pain – just make sure you’re using an age-appropriate dose. If you have questions, contact your doctor or nurse line.

When should I go to the doctor for an ear infection?

While many ear infections can be treated at home, some need medical attention. You’ll want to talk to a doctor or nurse if:

  • Your baby has a fever, especially if they are younger than 3 months old, or if your older baby’s temperature is above 102 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • The ear infection symptoms aren’t getting better after a couple of days.
  • There’s fluid draining from the ear.
  • You or your child is experiencing changes or loss of hearing.
  • The infection has lasted for more than six weeks.
  • You or your child is experiencing frequent or recurrent ear infections.

However you want to talk to us, we’re all ears

We’re here to make sure you get the care you need, day or night. Here are care options that may work based on your needs:

Nurse Line

If you’re wondering what to do about your baby’s fever or how to manage minor ear infection symptoms, a great place is to start is with the HealthPartners CareLine. Our members and patients can call us 24/7 day at 800-551-0859 or 952-993-4665.

Virtuwell visit

You can start an online Virtuwell visit any time, day or night to get an ear infection diagnosis and treatment plan for yourself or a child over age 5. In general, the doctor will prescribe a treatment plan that’s a combination of over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers. In some cases, they’ll prescribe antibiotics for adults. They’ll also prescribe kids antibiotics for swimmer’s ear.

In-person or video visit with your primary care doctor

You can also schedule a virtual appointment with the doctor that usually cares for you or your child. They’ll have the best information about your family’s health and what treatments may be appropriate. If necessary, your child’s primary care doctor can prescribe antibiotics and recommend additional treatments.

Keep in mind that if it’s only been a couple days since the ear infection started, you may not get a prescription for antibiotics. Your doctor will likely recommend treating the ear infection with OTC pain relievers and scheduling another appointment after a week or so. If you start with a video visit, it’s also possible that the doctor may want to see you or your child in person.

When you should have a hearing test

It can be scary to realize that you can’t hear as well as you used to, or to see your parent or child display signs of hearing loss or hearing impairment.

While hearing loss is typically thought of as a condition that develops later in life, it can happen at any age. Exposure to loud noises, genetics, certain medications and surgeries are just some of the factors that can contribute to hearing loss or hearing impairment.

The good news is there are a range of treatments available for hearing issues, and the first step is a hearing test to learn more. But when should you get your hearing tested? Before you notice any changes? Or only if you’ve started to notice signs of hearing loss? How do hearing tests work? What hearing loss treatments are available?

Below, we answer all these questions and more.

Signs of hearing loss to watch for

Most often, hearing loss happens so gradually that it can be hard to notice early on. There are multiple causes, including some that are unrelated to aging or exposure to loud noises.

Signs of hearing loss include:

  • Voices and other sounds seem muffled
  • Losing the ability to clearly hear high-pitched or middle-frequency sounds, like bird song, sirens, the voices of women and children, your cell phone ringtone or phone conversations
  • Frequently asking others to repeat themselves or speak louder and slower, especially when talking in noisy places
  • Having trouble hearing consonants, or mixing up common consonant sounds
  • Feeling fatigued or stressed from concentrating on hearing during a conversation
  • Needing the volume on the TV or stereo turned up higher than normal, or higher than is comfortable for the people you’re with
  • Experiencing tinnitus, which is a persistent ringing in your ears

Some symptoms related to our hearing and ears require immediate medical attention. See a doctor right away if you experience any of the following:

  • Sudden hearing loss in one or both ears
  • Hearing loss in one or both ears that occurs over several days or weeks
  • Hearing loss accompanied by earache or discharge leaking from the ear canal

If you or a loved one has concerns about hearing loss, the first step is making an appointment with a primary care doctor or clinician. They’ll listen to your symptoms, examine your ears and may do a hearing screening. And if you need more advanced care, a primary care doctor can refer you to an audiologist for a diagnostic hearing test, or an ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor who can treat underlying conditions that may be contributing to hearing issues.


Reasons why you should get a hearing test

The people around you may be the first to notice that you have a problem with your hearing. Hearing loss is nothing to be ashamed of, and it’s important to address it right away.

Untreated hearing loss can lead to:

  • Social anxiety – The fear of being unable to hear another person in conversation, or missing much of what they say, can be a source of anxiety for many people suffering from hearing loss.
  • Social isolation – In order to avoid the anxiety-provoking experience of conversation, someone with hearing loss may forego social gatherings altogether. This can lead to isolation.
  • Cognitive decline – As we age, strong social connections help us stay sharp. Without them, cognitive decline can accelerate and lead to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
  • Auditory deprivation – When hearing loss is left untreated for several years, the parts of the brain that process and interpret sound can weaken. Even after getting hearing aids, someone with auditory deprivation will be able to hear words again, but won’t always understand what they mean.
  • Safety concerns – When you can’t hear the world around you, things become much more dangerous. We need to be able to hear emergency sirens, car horns and alarms to stay safe.

The first step to understanding any problems with your hearing is knowing they exist. Then, you can begin to address them.

How often should I have my or my child’s hearing checked?

Most children have an initial hearing screening at birth before they go home from the hospital. If your baby wasn’t born at a hospital, you should have their hearing checked within their first three weeks of life.

Hearing loss usually doesn’t have any obvious physical symptoms, but there are certain behaviors in children that may indicate hearing loss. Your child may have some degree of hearing loss if they are:

  • Unresponsive to sounds like sudden loud noises or their name being called
  • Exhibiting developmental delays in speech and language

Every few years, children will have hearing screenings at school, typically in the form of pure-tone tests. Hearing screenings are also part of well-child checkups with a primary care clinician.

Unlike a hearing test, a hearing screening can be passed or failed. Failing a hearing screening is not an immediate indication of hearing loss, it only means that a full hearing test is needed for further evaluation.

Adults (18 years of age and older) without any signs of hearing loss, and who are not at risk, should have their hearing screened at least once every 10 years. After 50 years of age, the frequency should increase to every three years.

What to expect at a hearing test

The goal of a hearing test is to determine your auditory threshold, or the quietest level of sound you are able to hear, at any frequency.

Hearing tests are conducted by ear specialists called audiologists. In addition to auditory threshold, they will assess the physical function of your ears, examining inside your ear canal with a lighted magnifying device called an otoscope. They may also perform tests to see how well your brain processes sound.

How to prepare for a hearing test

A hearing test is a simple procedure that won’t require much preparation, but the experience will vary depending on the type of test you are having. Most tests usually last about 30 minutes. The following steps are recommended:

  • Avoid loud noises for 12-16 hours before your scheduled test. Going to something like a rock concert the night before a hearing test can cause skewed results.
  • Be prepared to tell your audiologist about any medications you’re currently taking or have taken in the past that can affect hearing, known as ototoxic medications.

Types of hearing tests

There are several hearing tests that a hearing specialist may conduct to evaluate hearing capabilities in both children and adults:

  • Audiogram, which involves listening to tones at different frequencies and sound levels, and speech testing
  • Tympanometry test
  • Otoacoustic emission test
  • Auditory brainstem response

Online hearing test

Online hearing tests can give you an idea of your hearing threshold and your potential degree of hearing loss, but that’s about it. Only a hearing test conducted by a trained audiologist can help you get to the root of your hearing loss and begin to treat it.

There are several different styles of hearing tests offered online, with some of the most popular ones estimating the age of your hearing based on the frequency levels you can hear. As we age, we lose the ability to hear high frequency sounds, or sounds that are very high-pitched. Sound frequency is measured in hertz (Hz). Healthy hearing can detect sounds between 20 and 20,000 Hz.

Hearing test results

While frequency (Hz) measures the pitch of sound, the volume of sound is measured in decibels (dB). A whisper is 30 decibels and a normal level of conversation is 60 decibels, whereas a revving motorcycle is 95 decibels (depending on how close you are to it). And a rock concert? Between 100 and 120 decibels.

Based on your ability to hear sounds of different volumes and frequencies, your audiologist will categorize your hearing loss according to this scale (provided by the Minnesota Department of Health):

  • None: 0-15 dB
  • Slight: Unable to hear sounds below 16-20 dB
  • Mild: Unable to hear sounds below 21-40 dB
  • Moderate: Unable to hear sounds below 41-55 dB
  • Moderate to severe: Unable to hear sounds below 56-70 dB
  • Severe: Unable to hear sounds below 71-90 dB
  • Profound: Unable to hear sounds below 91 dB

Hearing devices, implants and other treatments

Depending on the cause of your hearing loss, there may or may not be a cure for it. However, hearing loss can usually be treated. Common treatments include:

  • Hearing aids
  • Auditory osseointegrated implants
  • Cochlear implants
  • Ear tubes
  • Endoscopic ear surgery
  • Aural rehabilitation

Protect your ears and prevent hearing loss

A certain amount of hearing loss is a normal part of the aging process. However, you can slow this process and preserve your hearing for as long as possible by taking a few measures to protect your ears:

  • Reduce your exposure to loud noises, or take frequent breaks when in typically noisy areas, like concerts, clubs or parties
  • Wear hearing protection gear, like earplugs or regulated earmuffs, when around loud noises
  • Don’t listen to music too loudly, especially when using earbuds or headphones

If you or a loved one may be experiencing hearing loss, start by scheduling an appointment with a primary care doctor or clinician. They have experience diagnosing and treating hundreds of conditions, and they can refer you to an audiologist for a hearing test or an ENT if an underlying condition is suspected.

Help for ear pain


  • Causes of ear pain
  • Otitis media as a common cause of ear pain
  • First aid for ear pain
  • First aid for ear pain 900 06

Acute pain in the ear always causes severe discomfort. Until you get to the otolaryngologist for an appointment, and the drugs prescribed by him begin to work, you will need reliable and safe ways to eliminate the painful symptom. What is the first aid for ear pain?


Causes of ear pain

Both the course of treatment prescribed by an otolaryngologist and first aid methods for ear pain will depend on what disease caused the painful symptom. The following pathological conditions can cause pain in the organ of hearing:

  1. Pressure drops. If the auditory tube does not perform its function well, then during pressure drops (when diving and ascent, takeoff and landing, traveling by car or train), unpleasant sensations arise in the organ of hearing. The eardrum retracts inward, causing ear pain, pressure, and congestion.
  2. Inflammatory processes of different locations. Otitis and inflammatory processes in all parts of the organ of hearing can lead to the occurrence of painful symptoms. So, boils, erysipelas and eczema may appear in the outer ear; on average – different forms of otitis, in the internal – labyrinthitis.
  3. Acute pain in the ear may occur after trauma to various parts of the hearing organ. Painful symptoms can manifest themselves due to improper hygiene of the auditory canal, the ingress of foreign bodies into it and the shocks suffered.
  4. Inflammation of the parotid gland. The close location of this gland to the organ of hearing in the event of an abscess leads to the fact that patients begin to complain of severe pain in the ear.
  5. Mastoiditis. One of the sections of the middle ear – the mastoid process of the temporal bone – can also undergo an inflammatory process that has become a complication of otitis media. During the course of the disease, patients complain of very intense ear pain.

Ear pain is not always associated with diseases and inflammatory processes in the organ of hearing.

Pathological conditions in other parts of the human body can provoke the manifestation of unpleasant symptoms:

  • osteoarthritis that has developed in the jaw joint can also cause ear pain;
  • ear pain that occurs when chewing or turning the head sharply, may indicate neuralgia – inflammation and pinching of the nerves;
  • Lymphadenitis can also lead to pain in the ear – inflammation of the lymph nodes located near the auricle;
  • osteochondrosis and various injuries of the cervical spine can also provoke ear pain;
  • since all organs of the ENT system are interconnected, including nerve fibers, ear pain can lead to throat diseases – pharyngitis and tonsillitis;
  • pain in the ear may appear on the background of sinusitis, in which purulent masses press on the nerve receptors that transmit signals to the organ of hearing.
  • See also: By what signs can you understand that the baby has an earache?

    Since a painful symptom can indicate various diseases related to different areas, only a specialist can establish the correct diagnosis and prescribe the correct treatment for the underlying pathology. If the otolaryngologist does not find the “ear” cause of the appeared pain in your hearing organ, he will redirect you to other narrow specialists – a dentist, neurologist, surgeon or therapist.

    Otitis as a common cause of ear pain

    Otitis is the most common cause of ear pain. These inflammatory processes can be localized in different parts of the organ of hearing, and then the nature of the pain and its accompanying symptoms will also differ.

    Otitis externa

    Inflammation of the external part of the ear develops mainly under the skin of the auricle or auditory canal. This otitis media usually leads to water entering the passage or when the integument is injured.

    Ear pain in otitis externa is usually located closer to the exit of the auditory canal. As purulent masses accumulate under the skin, patients also note the appearance of itching, a feeling of pressure inside the hearing organ. If the tissues of the ear canal swell strongly and the lumen of the canal overlaps, there is also a feeling of stuffiness in the ear.

    Otitis media

    An acute inflammatory process affecting the tympanic cavity is always accompanied by excruciating sharp and shooting pain in the ear. Due to the fact that the mucous membrane of the middle ear is densely lined with nerve endings, the painful symptom becomes the very first signal that speaks of the development of the pathological process.

    The disease, in addition to pain in the ear, is accompanied by increasing hearing loss, a feeling of congestion and pressure deep inside the organ.

    Pain increases at rest, usually at night – this is due to an increase in exudate pressure on the mucous membrane of the tympanic cavity.

    Pain in the ear with otitis in acute form, as a rule, instantly disappears after the rupture of the eardrum under the pressure of purulent masses. But relief of symptoms does not mean the end of the disease – if at this stage the need for antibiotic therapy is ignored, the pathology can develop into a chronic form.

    See also: Hearing aid for the elderly: selection rules

    First aid for ear pain

    First aid for ear pain will be different depending on what pathological condition caused the appearance of this unpleasant symptom.

    Pressure Drop First Aid

    Earache caused by pressure drop can be relieved by simple techniques to reposition the eardrum:

    • Chew gum;
    • swallow saliva several times;
    • close the nostrils, close the lips tightly and exhale smoothly through the nose;
    • Press the tragus against the entrance to the ear canal.

    Toothache First Aid

    If you are sure that your earache was caused by a toothache, then you should take painkillers to relieve symptoms and make an appointment with your dentist.

    First aid for sinusitis

    For ear pain caused by sinusitis, a series of relief measures can help you:

    1. First of all, the nasal passages should be washed from accumulated mucous masses with saline solution.
    2. To thin the mucus, ensure optimal humidity in the room, drink more fluids and take special preparations, such as sinupret.
    3. To eliminate swelling, vasoconstrictor drugs should be dripped into the nasal passages.

    First Aid for Otitis Pain

    How you deal with ear pain from otitis media will depend on your symptoms. If you have a fever and discomfort increases in a horizontal position, it is better not to take risks and, after taking a painkiller, wait for the consultation of an otolaryngologist.

    The fact is that if the nature of the disease is unclear, one cannot self-medicate and use folk methods based on heating. Heat will temporarily eliminate the pain in the ear, but it can also accelerate the development of pathogenic flora in purulent otitis media and lead to serious complications.


    Taking an analgesic will help you fall asleep and calmly wait for an appointment with an otolaryngologist. Paracetamol, Novigan or ibuprofen can help you with ear pain. The last drug, in addition to eliminating the painful symptom, is able to slightly restrain the development of the inflammatory process. To enhance the action of analgesics during the day, you can drink a little coffee or strong tea.

    Ear drops

    Ear drops should only be used if you are sure of the nature of your condition. So, patients suffering from chronic forms of otitis media, without waiting for the consultation of an otolaryngologist, usually begin topical use of analgesic drugs. Otipax and Otinum effectively relieve ear pain, while they do not have an antibacterial effect, which means that when you visit an otolaryngologist, he will be able to freely choose the optimal treatment program for the disease for you.

    See also: Prevention of otitis in adults and children

    Dry heat

    Applying warm salt bags to the sore ear or using a blue lamp due to the action of heat will quickly relieve pain. But the use of such a method in some cases is fraught with negative consequences. So, if the pain in the ear is caused by purulent processes in the tissues of the organ of hearing, dry heat will only provoke the development of pathogenic flora and increased exudate release.

    Therefore, before consulting an otolaryngologist, it is better not to apply dry heat in order to eliminate in the ear.

    Camphor compress

    This is another way to relieve ear pain based on the effect of heating. You can use it only in situations where you are sure that there is no purulent process in your organ of hearing.

    1. To make a warming compress to relieve ear pain, you should prepare gauze, fold it into 4 layers and cut a hole in the middle for the auricle.
    2. According to the size of the bandage, you need to cut the same pattern from polyethylene.
    3. Soak the created dressing in slightly warmed camphor oil and put it on the affected ear through the hole.
    4. Polyethylene is applied on top of the bandage, the entire compress is fixed with a bandage and covered with a towel to keep warm.

    The compress is done for 5-6 hours. After this time, gauze and polyethylene are removed, and the ear canal is closed with a cotton ball. To preserve the effect, you should put on a knitted cap covering your ears on your head.


    Ear phyto-funnels are tubules impregnated with a special medicinal composition. The action of candles is based on the soft heating of the ear canal and the evaporation of natural essential oils.

    Phytocandles are usually used to facilitate the release of sulfuric plugs, so if you are sure that the pain in the ear is caused by the accumulation of masses in the auditory canal, you can safely use this method.

    Phyto-funnels, by gently warming the ear tissues, contribute to the fact that severe pain goes away, and due to the action of essential oils and other natural components (propolis, beeswax) they suppress the growth of pathogenic flora.

    What to do if your ear hurts

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    We recommend that at the initial manifestations of pain in the ears, contact a specialist – ENT. This is due to the fact that ear pain in an adult can be due to many reasons. And only a specialist can identify the true cause. Seeing a doctor late can lead to irreparable complications. Nevertheless, it is worth analyzing in more detail the main causes of ear pain, as well as the simplest preventive and therapeutic measures when this symptom appears.

    Major causes of ear pain in adults

    Ear pain can occur for a variety of reasons. Only a doctor can figure it out. The most common diseases accompanied by pain are eustachitis and otitis media. An insect caught in the ear canal can also cause pain.


    Inflammation of the Eustachian tube (Eustachitis) is an inflammation of the mucous membrane of the Eustachian tubes (on one or both sides). The disease is accompanied by edema, impaired patency between the middle ear and the pharynx. As a result, air communication between the air cavities is hindered. The described processes, accompanied by an increase in the inflammatory response, lead to the appearance of pain.

    Most often, eustachitis is the result of an infection that develops in the nasopharynx and penetrates into the Eustachian tube. The disease in question is often a complication of tonsillitis, inflammation of the palatine tonsils, sinusitis. Among the infectious agents can be various pathogens – bacteria or viral particles.

    Eustachitis symptoms:

    Eustachitis is an insidious disease that threatens hearing loss. Especially in the case of a two-way process.


    Otitis media is an inflammatory disease that is localized in the inner or outer part of the hearing organ. The disease can develop due to a decrease in the body’s defenses, sometimes after suffering inflammation. The disease is accompanied by swelling of the ear canals. The process of free air circulation is disturbed, and the first symptoms appear.

    The main symptoms of otitis:

    The direct cause of otitis is pathogenic microorganisms, among which streptococci and staphylococci are more often detected. Otitis is a dangerous disease. In the absence of proper treatment, serious complications are possible: meningitis, hearing loss.

    Insect in ear

    An insect can get into the ear at any time of the year. But more often it happens in spring or autumn. A trip to nature or a walk around the city can be overshadowed by a small bug or midge. When an insect enters the ear canal, severe pain can occur. Perhaps the appearance of another symptom – noise in the ear. This is due to the constant movements of the insect in the ear canal.

    In addition to pain and noise in the ear, other symptoms may appear, including:

    • a feeling of congestion;

    • inability to hear the interlocutor;

    • headache;

    • dizziness;

    • deterioration in general well-being.

    It is worth noting that many insects, if they get into the ear, begin to secrete special substances that perform a protective function for small living creatures. These substances can harm human health. In particular, irritation of the inner lining of the external auditory canal or eardrum is possible, which can lead to the development of an inflammatory process.

    If an insect enters the ear, it is necessary to get rid of it as soon as possible. There are many popular ways to do this. But it’s best to see a doctor.

    Other causes

    Ear pain in an adult can also be caused by other causes, including:

    1. Irritation of the vagus nerve. In some diseases of the internal organs, for example, in diseases of the stomach, pain may appear far from the pathological focus. For example, in the teeth or in the ear.

    2. Caries complicated by pulpitis. Inflammation of the soft tissue of the tooth leads to severe pain, which often extends to the ear.

    3. Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine. This disease, like, for example, the pathology of the mandibular joint, can provoke severe pain in the ear.

    4. Lymphadenitis. This disease is an inflammation of the lymph nodes. In the case of localization of the inflammatory process in the parotid nodes, a pain symptom may appear.

    5. Perichondritis. It is a complication of inflammatory diseases of an infectious nature. Its essence lies in inflammation of the auricle. Namely, its cartilaginous part. In addition to swelling and redness, severe pain occurs.

    6. In addition to the above, ear pain can occur when a large amount of earwax accumulates in the external auditory canal, when you carelessly use an ear stick or listen to music in headphones at a very high volume.

    How to treat earache in an adult

    This article addresses common issues regarding ear pain. All instructions are for informational purposes only. Any medicines and procedures should be used only after consultation with a specialist. Otherwise, you can cause irreparable harm to your own health.

    When to see a doctor

    With the appearance of pain in the ear, many people try to get rid of an unpleasant symptom with the help of traditional medicine. Various drops, ointments or self-prepared preparations are used. Such measures are considered relatively safe, but they are not. Any drug introduced into the body has its own contraindications. An unprofessional choice of medicine can result not only in the persistence of pain in the ear, but also in the occurrence of dangerous complications.

    Self-medication for ear pain is a big mistake. Of course, if initial symptoms occur, you can try to use sparing folk remedies. But with the progression of pain, you should immediately consult a doctor.

    An urgent visit to the doctor is necessary for:

    • concomitant diseases of ENT organs;

    • ear pain in combination with headache;

    • swelling of the auricle;

    • recent inflammatory disease of the upper respiratory tract;

    • elevated body temperature;

    • prolonged pain in the ear.

    It should be noted that only a specialist with a medical education is able to correctly diagnose and prescribe adequate treatment. In this case, it will be possible to avoid severe complications of the disease, the symptom of which is ear pain.


    An adult can easily avoid such an unpleasant symptom as earache. To do this, it is enough to follow simple preventive recommendations. First, you need to pay attention to the hygiene of the external auditory canals. To do this, use an ear stick. In this case, in no case should it be inserted into the ear to a depth of more than 5 mm. This can lead to negative consequences.

    Hardening activities are important – walks in the fresh air, feasible physical activity. They help to strengthen the immune system and, as a result, reduce the risk of inflammatory processes in the hearing organs.

    Proper treatment of the common cold will relieve many problems, including ear pain. Timely access to a doctor and the implementation of appointments will prevent the spread of the infectious process to the hearing organs. In addition, it is necessary to blow your nose correctly: alternately from each nostril, closing the second nostril. This technique will not allow the purulent contents of the nasopharynx to penetrate into the Eustachian tube.

    Compliance with the principles of rational nutrition largely contributes to strengthening the immune system and preventing infectious diseases, including hearing organs. Therefore, people who eat right are less likely to experience ear pain.

    Using earplugs while bathing, showering, swimming pool will prevent water from entering the external auditory canals. As a result, the inflammatory process accompanied by pain is excluded.

    If the sphere of professional activity of a person is associated with being in a zone of increased noise, it is worth using earplugs. Music lovers can be advised not to turn on the headphones at maximum volume.