The most common locations and causes for ear pain are the outer ear from moisture trapped in the ear canal (otitis externa or swimmers ear) or from trapped foreign objects and the middle ear from trapped fluid resulting in a bacterial infection (otitis media).
- Sharp or dull, throbbing pain or itching in the ear
- Fluid or pus leaking from the ear
- Ringing or buzzing in the ear or complete hearing loss
Who is at risk?
Ear pain might result in anyone who has experienced extreme head congestion from sinus blockage, colds or flu. In infants, bottle feeding often lends to ear pain because of the position of the child during feeding and the collection of moisture in the ear canal. More unusual causes of ear discomfort may stem from anyone who has experienced a change in altitude or pressure – like a swimmer, hiker, or scuba diver – might experience a sudden ear ache. Secondhand smoke has been shown to occasionally result in ear pain as well.
A doctor should be consulted for most ear pain, unless chronic recurrence is taking place, in which case a doctor might recommend one or two steps to be taken at home before seeking medical care. External ear pain is most often treated at home with ear drops for 7-10 days and possibly pain medication. If the drainage causing pain builds up in the ear, an infection might occur, requiring possible medical attention. Middle ear pain and infections are often treated with an antibiotic and analgesics for 10-14 days.
Emergency Warning Signs: When should I see a doctor?
Persistent ear pain should be seen by your primary care doctor or a Mountain Lakes Medical physician if your doctor is not accessible. Only a physician has the knowledge and instruments needed to properly diagnose and treat the problem.
For more information on ear pain, see the following websites:
Family Doctor.org Eustachian Tube Dysfunction
ENT Information on Better Ear Health
Disclaimer: The links above are to sites independent of MtLakesMedical.com. The pages will open in a new browser window. The information provided is for educational purposes only, and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your doctor. Always follow your doctor’s recommendations regarding your specific medical questions, treatments, therapies, and other needs.