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Ear pain (earache) is among the most common hearing health issues. It can occur in both ears or just one, manifesting as anything from a dull ache to sharp sensations that affect your quality of life.

Children are often more at risk of getting earaches, but that doesn’t make adults immune. And despite usually being nothing to worry about, any ear pain should still be dealt with as quickly as possible.

Boots Hearingcare looks at some key points around earaches, including what you can do to prevent them.

Earache causes

Earache can happen for several reasons. You don’t have to have an infection, or even anything wrong with your ears, to experience ear pain. As such, determining the cause of your earache is essential for proper diagnosis and treatment planning.

The most common causes of earache include:

Identifying the root cause of your ear pain is key to the best possible outcome, leading to improved hearing health as well as freedom from discomfort.

How to stop earache

Often an earache will clear up quickly without intervention. However, the discomfort of living with ear pain – even for a short period – can prove unbearable to some. Learning how to ease an earache, then, is extremely important.

Earache relief solutions may range from home remedies to more traditional medical treatments, such as:

  • Applying a warm or cold compress to the affected ear
  • Sleeping propped up against some pillows instead of lying completely straight or on one side
  • Chewing gum or sucking on a sweet
  • Taking over-the-counter painkillers under the instruction of your GP

It’s best to go and see your pharmacist or GP for advice on how to treat earache if the symptoms are particularly troublesome. They’ll identify the cause of the ear pain, explain how to remedy it, and tell you what steps you can take to avoid these issues in the future.

Ear pain treatment

Earaches can be debilitating and treating them quickly if symptoms do escalate is crucial, so make sure you know your options.
  • A few effective treatments for earache are:
  • Managing pain with medication and/or drops
  • Antibiotic therapy
  • Ear tubes

Most of the time, ear pain will go away without sufferers needing any treatment at all, but if it doesn’t fade or there are other, more serious symptoms, you should visit your doctor or a local ENT (ear, nose and throat) specialist asap.

Earache Drops

Thankfully, earaches almost always clear up on their own and don’t require medication. Even so, a hearing health care professional could recommend over-the-counter or prescription ear drops to:

  • Remove wax that may have accumulated in the ear canals
  • Reduce inflammation and swelling
  • Stop the growth of any bacteria brought on by infection

If you have persistent ear pain, drops can provide long-lasting relief. Just make sure you get the OK from your doctor before using them.

Frequently asked questions

How long do earaches last?

It all depends on the underlying cause of the ear pain. However, most cases typically last no longer than a week.

What can earache be a sign of?

Symptomatic of a few different medical conditions, each of varying severity, it is important that you have any new ear pain checked by a hearing health care professional. Although most commonly an ear infection will be to blame.

What does ear and jaw pain mean?

As the ear and jaw joint are on the same nerve, a "referred" pain link exists between the two areas. This being the case, you may notice that pain in your jaw from clenching it or grinding your teeth can lead to ear discomfort.

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