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Earaches: What to Know
Health & Wellness

Earaches: What to Know

March 26, 2021

Earaches can be uncomfortable, but they are a common condition that many people face. They may also signal that you have an infection that needs to be treated. At Altru, our primary care doctors and ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialists are trained to find out exactly what is causing your ear pain and develop tailored treatment plans to help you find relief.

What Causes Earaches?

Ear pain can come in a variety of forms. You might feel a burning or dull pain. Or you may have more of a sharp stinging sensation in one or both of your ears. The type of discomfort and whether it occurs sporadically or out of the blue can offer your doctor clues about what is causing your earache.

Some of the conditions associated with pain in the ear or ears include:

  • Arthritis in your jaw—inflammation and degeneration of the jaw bones that extends to the ear area
  • Ear injury caused by changes in pressure—may be experienced when flying or traveling to a high elevation area
  • Earwax buildup—causes pressure in the ear canal
  • Hole in your eardrum—rupture of the thin tissue separating the outer ear and the middle ear
  • Malignant otitis externa—infection of the ear that has extended to and damages the ear canal bones and the base of your skull
  • Otitis media—ear infection that is common in children; can cause pain and hearing loss
  • Sinus infection—inflammation of the tissue that lines the sinuses
  • Swimmer’s ear—infection, inflammation or irritation of the ear canal area and the outer ear; most common in teens and young adults; sometimes caused by scratching the ear or swimming in water that is not clean

Symptoms of an Ear Infection

If you or your child has an ear infection, you may notice ear pain and/or fever. If your child has an ear infection, you may also notice:

  • Fussiness
  • Insomnia
  • Rubbing and tugging at the ear

Calling a doctor or visiting one of our Walk-in Express Clinics is an important step in the case of symptoms of infection, including hearing loss, fluid or pus coming from the ear, high fever, and symptoms that get worse.

What Happens If an Ear Infection Goes Untreated?

Depending on the type of ear infection, an ENT doctor may prescribe antibiotics. Watchful waiting could also be recommended, as sometimes ear infections clear up on their own. Over-the-counter pain medication to manage discomfort is sometimes the only form of treatment that is required. However, if serious ear infections are not treated, intense pain and permanent hearing loss may occur, which is why seeing an ENT is so important. In the case of chronic ear pain in a child, surgery to place tubes in the middle ear can help drain fluid until a child’s ears grow and develop.

Facing ear pain and looking for a simple solution? Find an Altru Express Clinic for relief.

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