Ear pain can happen to both children and adults. It may affect one or both ears. Pain in the ear can be caused by many factors such as infection, flu, or colds. While some ear pain can come and go others may persist and leaving them unattended can lead to more serious issues.
Common Causes of Ear Pain
People with ear pain feel discomfort in their outer, middle, and inner ear. This pain can be due to an ear injury, infection, or inflammation. Otitis media is an ear infection that affects the middle ear while otitis externa is an infection of the ear canal. Aside from these causes, ear pain can also happen because of shampoo or water trapped in the ear, using cotton swabs in the ear, strep throat, earwax buildup, Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome, impacted tooth, and infected tooth.
Symptoms of Ear Pain
The symptoms of ear pain depend on what causes it. Symptoms that are likely to occur with otitis external include ear swelling, ear redness, ear canal discharge, and ear tenderness. Also, symptoms such as ear congestion, fever, hearing loss, vertigo, and dizziness can also be experienced by sufferers.
Treatment Options for Ear Pain
The right treatment for ear pain depends on the underlying cause. But, generally, they include over-the-counter medications, painkillers, warm compresses, narcotic pain medication, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDs). Those who experience otitis media are often prescribed with oral antibiotics while those with otitis externa are prescribed with antibiotic eardrops. Treatment for ear pain due to TMJ often includes using a soft mouth guard, soft diet, muscle relaxants, or NSAIDs.
Ear Pain and Other Conditions
Adults who experience chronic ear pain can have certain conditions like tinnitus which is a ringing in the ear. Some pain in the ear comes from a referred source which means the pain’s sensation is felt in the ear; however, originates in other body parts like jaw area, brain, or throat. Although it is rare, structural changes in the jaw or teeth can also cause ear pain. Disorders of or damage to the TMJ can cause the feeling of pressure or fullness or tinnitus.
Preventing Ear Pain
Allergy triggers such as dust and pollen as well as exposure to second-hand smoke can irritate the sinuses and cause earaches. Thus, it’s important to avoid exposure to them. Those who are at risk of ear pain must also avoid loud music, environmental noise, and concerts. When swimming, earplugs and a bathing cap should be worn.