Signs You May Have an Earache
If you find yourself experiencing slight, or even excessive ear pain, you're likely experiencing an earache. A wide variety of factors can cause earaches, and usually a medical professional will be able to tell you the best way to treat it.
What Is an Earache?
While earaches have a higher chance of occurring in children, adults may also experience earaches as well. Earaches occur when you experience pain within the area of your ear(s), including both inside and/or the outside of your ear.
What Causes Earaches?
Numerous factors can cause earaches. It can be linked to an infection, issues with ear wax itself, changes in air pressure, sinus problems, and even dental issues.
Infections in the ear can occur on the inside and/or the outside of the ear. There can be a variety of causes of these infections. Earaches can be a symptom of tonsillitis or pharyngitis. Sinus infections also have the potential of blocking-up tubes within the middle-ear (a portion inside of the ear).
These can result in a buildup of fluids which can become infected. The accumulation of these fluids can be painful. Sometimes, people will also feel pressure within their ears. According to WebMD, when this fluid becomes infected, it’s called otitis media. Otis media is the most common form of earaches.
Rapid changes in air pressure can also cause ear pain. Some of these rapid changes include traveling to higher ground, or when you go up in an airplane.
Ear wax naturally created by your body can also result in painful buildups. As the earwax builds up, it begins to harden. When the wax hardens and clogs the canal, it is called impacted wax
Dental issues can also cause issues with earaches, including cavities, tooth absences, and impacted molars. Grinding your teeth while you sleep can also result in earaches.
Treatments for Earaches
Depending on the cause, there are a variety of ways earaches may be treated. Earaches caused by otitis media can be combatted by either decongestant antihistamines with a nasal steroid, or antibiotics. Your doctor will be able to determine which is the best earache treatment option for you.
For infections outside the ear, your doctor may prescribe you with antibiotic eardrops. Regardless, it’s highly recommended you reach out to a medical professional to determine the best method of treatment.
Changes in air pressure can be combatted by chewing gum, yawning, and/or swallowing during landing and take-off. You can also pinch your nose and very lightly try to blow air out of your nostrils. Do not blow too hard because you can damage your ears.
If there is impacted wax in your ear, it’s important not to try to use a cotton swab to remove it. It tends to push it further into your ear, which can exacerbate the clog. You also have a chance of accidentally damaging your eardrum. Your doctor will be able to remove the impacted wax without damaging your eardrums.
If you have dental issues, generally settling the root cause of the problem will stop the earaches. It’s always recommended to reach out to a medical professional to seek the most accurate treatment, so in this case, a visit to your dentist may help confirm whether or not dental issues are the cause of your earaches. If you find yourself grinding your jaw at night, you may consider purchasing a mouth guard in order to protect your teeth and jaw.
Will Earaches Go Away on Their Own?
Technically some earaches can potentially go away on their own. Some earaches will require treatment, but this is why it’s important to get a medical professional involved. They’ll be able to tell you the cause of the earache, as well as whether or not further treatment is required.
In regards to otitis media, a study in 2005 showed that watching closely and monitoring it can also work, however it must be watched closely by a medical professional. The study showed that “Thirty days after the first doctor visit, the cure rate was the same in the immediate treatment and watchful-waiting groups.”
This is a huge find because doctors are trying to minimize their usage of antibiotics in order to prevent diseases from developing immunity to these medications. However, if it’s not monitored closely, and the infection gets worse, it could further impact your overall ear health.
Earaches Tend to Be a Treatable Pain
While it does depend on what’s causing the earache, for the most part, earaches are easily treatable. By visiting your doctor you’ll be able to tell whether or not further treatment is required, or if the best bet is to wait to see if it will go away on its own.
Either way, it’s important to make sure it’s watched carefully to ensure that no other aspects of your ear health will be impacted.