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Earache : Symptoms, Possible Causes, Treatment, and Prevention




Earache is a fairly common symptom in young children.

Our ears are connected to the throat and nose, so problems in the throat or nose can cause ear pain. However, earaches can also occur in adults, and the causes are outlined below.

Most earaches occur in one ear.

The pain varies from person to person, but it is often a dull ache or occasional sharp pain.

Many times, throat pain accompanies earaches.

This article discusses common symptoms of earaches, possible causes, how to stop an earache fast, and finally, methods for preventing earaches.




Common Earache Symptoms


Earaches can vary in pain from person to person depending on the underlying cause.


In the case of young children,

earaches often result from infections, causing a burning sensation or warmth, usually accompanied by a fever.

These infections can progress to inflammation, leading to the sensation of heat.

Additionally, since the ears are connected to the throat and nose, children might also feel a burning sensation or warmth in these areas due to the infection.

In rare cases, if an earache occurs due to an infection, hearing loss can also occur. This is because there may be issues in the pathway through which sound is transmitted, preventing it from reaching the inner ear properly.

Fortunately, this condition can improve if treated promptly. Infections causing hearing loss require a process of using medications to treat damaged tissues.


In adults,

earaches are primarily not caused by infections.

Instead, they are often a form of referred pain, where discomfort from issues in the teeth, jaw, or throat spreads to the connected ear.

In other words, the pain doesn't originate directly in the ear, resulting in a dull ache that extends beyond the ear. The discomfort can be felt not only in the ear but also in the throat, jaw, and face, creating a broader area of pain. However, earaches in adults can still occasionally occur due to infections, although it is rare.


Common Cause of Earache


Adult :

usually adult's earache is referred pain.

  • Jaw

Arthritis of the jaw

Fracture of the jaw

Temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ)




  • Nasal

Sinus infection (Nasal infection)





  • Throat

Sore throat




  • Tooth

Tooth infection



However if it is not referred pain, then it can be caused because of


  • Ear injury from pressure changes (from high altitudes and other causes)

  • Object stuck in the ear or buildup of ear wax

  • Hole in the eardrum



Children :

usually children's earache is related to infection.


  • Second hand smoke,
  • Water trapped in the ear (commonly occurs in children who swim).
  • Surfactant residue left in the ear.
  • Habit of roughly digging the ear with fingers or cotton swabs.
  • Habit of inserting foreign objects into the ear habitually.




How to treat Earache


Home Care Treatment

If it's caused by an infection:

  1. Apply a cloth-wrapped ice pack around the ear for about 20-30 minutes.
  2. Take over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. (Aspirin is not recommended for children)
  3. Get plenty of rest to boost your immune system.



When should I visit ENT because of the earache? 


  • When earache makes daily life unbearable


  • When hearing is significantly impaired


  • When dizziness and balance issues occur (as the ear serves both as an auditory organ and plays a role in balance


  • When all the above home care methods have been tried but fever and pain do not subside within 2 days





Prevention for Earache


  • Dry the ears thoroughly with cool air after showering or swimming.

  • Avoid using earphones immediately after showering or swimming.

  • Do not frequently or roughly remove earwax.

  • Be careful to prevent surfactant from entering the ears while showering.


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