What is an Earache?
An earache can be described as a sharp, stabbing, throbbing or dull pain that causes much discomfort. It is very common in children but can affect people of all ages.
The most common cause of earache is otitis media, infection of the middle ear (the space behind the eardrum) or otitis externa, inflammation of the outer ear canal. Earache is easily treatable and very seldom causes complications.
The most common symptoms and signs of a middle ear infection (otitis media) include:
- Fever or high temperature
- Ear pain
- Temporary loss of hearing
- Persistent crying, especially in babies
Symptoms and signs of outer ear infection (otitis externa) include:
- Occasionally pus in the ear
What causes an Earache?
The most common causes of earache include:
- Blockage in the ear tube (Eustachian tube)
- Objects stuck in the ear
- Ear infection
- Arthritis of the jaw
- Tooth infection
- Damaged or ruptured eardrum
- Sore throat
- Ear wax buildup
- Soap or shampoo lodged in the ear
- Diagnosing Earaches
The diagnosis of earache is based physical examination as well as symptoms presented. Your doctor will examine the outer ear, ear canal and ear drum with an instrument called an otoscope. The examination may also involve the mouth, nose, throat and teeth. In some cases, X-rays may also be ordered.
Help for Earaches
Earache is usually treated with eardrops which contain antibiotics to help fight the infection. Over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen also provide pain relief. If earache is not that severe, place a warm, damp compress to the outer ear to reduce pain.
Insert some warm (not hot!) olive oil into the ear canal to relieve pain or massage gently under each ear. For more serious episodes of earache, an oral antibiotic together with the eardrops may be prescribed. Children who experience recurring ear infections may have a surgical procedure performed that involves having ear tubes inserted.
More and more people are choosing herbal and homeopathic remedies as a natural alternative to antibiotic treatment of earache. These treatments are safe and gentle on the human body’s system and also support overall ear health. Herbs such as Pulsatilla (Pasque Flower) and Echinacea purpurea act as a nerve relaxant and reduce inflammation while also stimulating the immune system. Homeopathic ingredients such as Hepar sulph, Belladonna, Pulsatilla and Levisticum radix treats the symptoms of ear infections.