Pain in the ear



Ear pain is a common problem, especially in children. It is usually nothing to worry about; it can only result from a mild infection and can go away without treatment within a few days. It can manifest itself as a sharp pain, a pain. dull (dull), as a permanent burning sensation or as a pain that comes and goes, in one or both ears. It is advisable to consult your family doctor in the following cases:

  • high fever, vomiting, severe sore throat, swelling around the ear or leakage of fluid from the ear
  • feeling of having a foreign body in the ear
  • pain that does not go away within a few days

To alleviate the pain, it is recommended to apply a warm cloth to the ear. Your pharmacist may advise you to use drops, available as over-the-counter medicines. Alternatively, a few drops of vegetable oil can be poured into the ear, except in cases of burning or infection. In the latter case, in fact, it is necessary to avoid moistening the inside of the ear. Against pain, after consulting your doctor, you can also use over-the-counter painkillers based on paracetamol or ibuprofen, avoiding taking aspirin to children under 16 years of age.

Common causes of ear pain

Ear infections

In these cases, fluid or pus-like fluid leaks out of the ear.These can be external infections, which affect the tract that connects the outside of the ear to the eardrum, or infections that affect the middle ear, behind the eardrum. In both cases, pain can occur. Usually, infections occur. they reabsorb spontaneously after a few days or a few weeks (read the Bufala) but, if the pain continues, the doctor may prescribe drops or antibiotics.

Mucosal serum otitis

Also known as otitis media with leaking fluid (exudate), it is due to the accumulation of fluid in the innermost part of the ear and can cause temporary hearing loss. It can develop in the absence of pain but, sometimes, the pressure created inside can trigger it. This type of otitis can pass spontaneously, but it can take a few months; if the problem persists, you should contact a specialist doctor (otolaryngologist) who can intervene by incising the tympanic membrane and aspirating the secretions contained in the middle ear (myringotomy).

In the event that the secretions are particularly dense, a cannula is applied to facilitate ventilation of the eardrum case, the reabsorption of secretions accumulated inside the middle ear (trans-tympanic drainage) and to drain the fluid outside the ear.

Ear injury

Ear pain can sometimes result from an internal injury, such as from scratching the ear canal to remove the wax plugs with cotton swabs (cotton swab) or by pushing too much a piece of cotton inside the ear, until the eardrum is punctured; the ear canal is very sensitive and can be easily damaged. It can take up to 2 months to restore a perforated eardrum, and in this case, no drops should be used.

Ear wax in the ear

A buildup of ear wax in the ear can sometimes cause pain.To soften the earwax plug and facilitate its leakage, you can take specific drops available at the pharmacy. If the earwax remains, the otolaryngologist can easily remove it with washes (irrigations).

Presence of a foreign body

If something has been introduced into the ear, it is best not to try to extract it by intervening on your own because there is the risk of pushing the foreign body even further in and damaging the eardrum. Instead, it is necessary to contact the family doctor who may possibly recommend a specialist visit.

Throat infections

Ear pain can be a symptom of a throat infection, such as:

  • tonsillitis, inflammation of the tonsils usually caused by a viral infection
  • peritonsillar abscess, a collection of pus that affects one side of the upper throat and sometimes makes it very difficult to even swallow fluid foods

Tonsillitis usually resolves after a few days without the need for antibiotics. If the abscess appears, you should contact your family doctor as soon as possible to start treatment.

Jaw problems

Ear pain can also be caused by a problem in the jaw joint (where the jaw bone engages the skull) known as temporomandibular joint pain. It can occur as a result of arthritis or grinding of the teeth. Jaw pain can be relieved by taking pain relievers on the advice of a doctor, applying hot or cold compresses, and trying not to clench the jaw or grind the teeth.

Tooth abscess

Dental abscess develops due to an accumulation of pus in the cavity of the tooth or in the gum as a result of a bacterial infection. The main ailment caused by the abscess is pain in the affected tooth, which can be intense and pounding. Sometimes the pain can spread to the ear.In the event of a dental abscess, you should go to the dentist as soon as possible to get rid of the infection and the pus.


NHS. Earache (English)

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