Earache occurs both in adults and children but is more common in children. The level of discomfort varies from just a dull ache to extremely painful stabbing pains in the ears. Babies and children can sometimes get a fever when they have an earache.
Causes of Earache
• Sudden changes in weather, for instance, becoming very cold quickly.
• Having a cold. Mucus can build up in the middle ear and cause earache.
• Dental problems. Sometimes a problem with the teeth can cause referred pain in the ears. Sometimes there is a structural problem with the jaw.
• Very rarely, earaches are caused by an auditory processing disorder. For instance, hyperacusis occurs in only one in 50,000 people. This hypersensitivity to sound causes pain in the ears.
• Otitis media. This is the medical term for ear infection. Not all earaches are ear infections.
How you treat earache depends on its cause. See your doctor for a diagnosis. If there is an infection then antibiotics are not normally needed as most infections clear up within three days without any treatment. Antibiotics may be considered if the patient is a baby.
If an auditory processing disorder is occurring, you or your loved one can be referred to an ENT specialist who will be able to help re-train the brain to interpret sound correctly. This is normally done by emitting pink noise into your ear via a device that looks like a hearing aid, over a prolonged period of time. They can also explore other ways to help.
If you or your doctor think the pain is being caused by a dental problem, your dentist will be able to advise on your best course of treatment.
Home Remedies for Earache
For general earache, you could try:
• Wrapping up warm in cold weather. Wear a hat that covers your ears.
• Microwave some olive oil for 15 seconds only, then use a syringe to put the olive oil into the ear. Important: stir the olive oil first to get rid of any hot spots and test it with your finger before you insert it, to make sure it isn’t too hot. Warmed olive oil often stops ear pain.
• Dip some cotton wool in mouthwash solution and plug the ear with it.