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Ear Pain - Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

Written by
Dr. Ashok Kumar Srivastava
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.

Published on Apr 15, 2016 and last reviewed on Jun 09, 2022   -  1 min read


Ear pain is a common symptom, which can vary from mild to severe. Severe ear pain can even disrupt your normal day-to-day activities. Read the article to understand the cause behind your pain.

Ear Pain - Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

Pain in the ear is one of the most common complaints. It is present in infectious, allergic and malignant diseases of the ear and related structures.

Causes of Ear Pain

Few important diseases that cause ear pain are:

Besides these, there are a few conditions where there is no disease associated with the ear, but the patient often get ear pain along with this. This is medically named as referred otalgia.

Causes of Referred Otalgia:

Diagnosis and Treatment

All the above diseases have their own clinical features. Diagnosis is made on the basis of clinical findings and their correlation with relevant investigations. Depending upon the diagnosis, treatment is carried out. Every disease needs separate treatment.

Few of them are treated by medicines while some need surgical intervention.

If you are suffering from Ear Pain, consult an ENT otolaryngologist online --> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/ENT-Otolaryngologist

Frequently Asked Questions


Can Ear Pain Be a Sign of Temporomandibular Disorder?

Ear pain can be a sign of osteoarthritis, a common type of arthritis in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). This condition can occur due to the wear and tear of the cartilage surrounding the TMJ.


How to Identify if Your Ear Pain Is Serious?

Ear pain can be considered as a severe condition when you have the following symptoms:
- Severe drowsiness.
- High fever.
- Stiff neck.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Recent head trauma or a blow to the ear.
- When you notice fluid like pus or blood oozing out of your ear.
- When you have a headache, high fever, or dizziness.
- When any object gets stuck in your ear.
- When you have swelling behind your ear, and that side of your face seems weak or unable to move the muscles there.
- When you have a sudden severe ear pain, which can be due to a ruptured eardrum.
- If the symptoms do not get better or become worse in 24 to 48 hours.


Can an Ear Hurt When There Is an Ear Infection?

Ear pain can be due to ear infection because of the inflammation and the buildup of fluid inside the ear. It can cause a throbbing type of pain behind the ear, even with discharge.


How Should I Sleep in the Case of Ear Pain?

It is better to rest or sleep upright than lying during ear pain, which helps to drain the fluid inside the ear and reduces the middle ear's pressure.


Can There Be Ear Pain Without Infection?

Ear pain can occur even without infection due to the fluid or air buildup behind the eardrum, causing a feeling of discomfort, fullness, or reduced healing. This is called serous otitis media or otitis media with effusion, which means there is fluid in the middle ear.


Why Does My Ear Pain Become Worse at Night?

The ear pain gets worse at night because the fluid gets pooled in the ear in the lying position and due to dust mites that live in the bedding, in some dust allergy patients.


Can Heat or Ice Reduce Ear Pain?

When you hold a hot cloth or a heating pad against the ear for about 20 minutes, it may give temporary pain relief, relax the muscles, and improve blood flow. At the same time, cold temperatures can help numb pain and reduce inflammation.


Can Ear Infections Go Away on Its Own?

An ear infection can go away on its own within two to three days without any particular treatment. But sometimes, it may long last for about six weeks or longer, even after antibiotic treatment.


Why Do I Have Severe Pain in My Ear?

The common cause for ear pain is an ear infection, which can cause inflammation and buildup of fluid and pressure inside the ear, causing severe pain. Other causes of severe ear pain are allergies, cold, and a sinus infection, blocking the tubes in the middle ear.


What Is the Most Suitable Therapy for Earache?

Medications that help to cure earache are Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, or Naproxen can help relieve ear pain, and antibiotics like:
- Amoxil (Amoxicillin).
- Augmentin (Amoxicillin and Potassium Clavulanate).
- Cortisporin (Neomycin, Polymyxin B, and Hydrocortisone) solution or suspension.
- Cortisporin TC suspension (Colistin, Neomycin, Thonzonium, and
- Ofloxacin.
Other home remedies include:
- Cold or warm compresses.
- Neck exercises.
- Garlic.
- Olive oil.
- Ginger.
- Hydrogen peroxide.


Is Ear Pain Always a Sign of Infection?

Infection is the common cause of ear pain, but it is not necessary to always be the reason for ear pain. The other common reason for ear pain can also be teething, fluid, or air buildup behind the eardrum.


How Long Can an Ear Infection Be Left Untreated?

Almost 80 percent of the ear infection will go independently without any antibiotics within 2 to 3 days. In case of chronic infection, it may last for six weeks or more. If not treated, ear infections may lead to severe complications like hearing loss, perforation of the eardrum, facial nerve paralysis, meningitis, and mastoiditis (inflammation of the mastoid bone adjacent to the ear).

Last reviewed at:
09 Jun 2022  -  1 min read




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