Ear pain is defined as a dull or intense sensation of discomfort in the ear or related areas. Chronic otalgia or earache is a very common problem in most of the adults. However, at least 50% of the ear pain is a referred pain .i.e. it comes from a different area or part of the body. Such referred ear pain can occur due to the TMJ Syndrome, tonsillitis or sinusitis.
a) Ear pain and stuffiness
Ear pain is often caused by a buildup of fluid and pressure in the middle ear, specifically the portion of the ear behind the eardrum. This stagnant fluid becomes a breeding place for a bacterial infection, which often results in pain and fever.
b) Blocked eustacian tube
Colds and flu commonly lead to the blockage of the eustacian tube, the short narrow tube that drains fluid from the middle ear. When this tube closes, the normal flow of fluid from the middle ear is prevented and fluid begins to accumulate, causing stiffness and pain.
c) Ear barotraumas
This is a condition of discomfort in the ear caused by pressure differences between the inside and the outside of the eardrum. This condition normally occurs with extreme altitude changes, such as with flying or driving in the mountains.
d) External Otitis
Also known as otitis externa or swimmer’s ear, this is an infection of the ear canal that is caused by many different types of bacteria or fungi. The condition gets extremely painful when left untreated and the outer part of the ear gets even painful to touch.
This is a serious bacterial infection of the bone behind the ear and results in intense ear pain.
e) Meniere’s disease
This is typically a disorder of the inner ear, resulting in earache. Other common causes of ear pain include:
- An object stuck in the ear
Severely impacted ear wax
Ear injury form pressure changes
Arthritis of the jaw
Tumors of the ear
Temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ)
Stress and psychological factors
Treatment and Home Care
Ear pain is often cured by regularly observing self-care remedies. Here we list a few of the main treatment and home care options for earache:
a. Antihistamines, decongestants and nose drops are helpful to decrease the amount of fluid flowing from the middle ear and shrink the mucous membranes in open the Eustachian tube.
b. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can provide relief from earache.
c. In some cases, antibiotics also may need to be prescribed.
d. A cold pack or cold wet washcloth applied to the outer ear for 20 minutes helps to reduce pain.
e. If the eardrum has not ruptured, olive oil or over-the-counter eardrops are gentle and effective for use.
f. Prescription drops such as Auralgan are also quite effective.
g. All possible allergy triggers should be avoided.
h. Ears should be kept moisture free as far as possible.