Earaches are caused by a number of conditions and can affect the outer, middle, or inner ear. Visiting an otolaryngologist to have the source diagnosed may protect from hearing loss or the spread of an infection.
Swimmer’s ear is an outer ear infection often caused by water sitting in the ear for long periods of time. This can be very painful and lead to a red, irritated outer ear. Special eardrops from a physician are often necessary.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, or TMJ, is a throbbing pain emanating from the jaw. Earaches can be the result as the pain is transferred from the jaw up to the ear. Grinding teeth at night and physical tension and stress lead to TMJ.
Otitis media is an infection of the middle ear. It is the most common reason for an earache. The Eustachian tube runs to the throat from the ear, allowing fluids to drain out. If fluids are not allowed to pass through, due to a blockage, they will build up, causing pressure. This blockage is most often due to an infection but other inflammation is also possible.
Children are the most susceptible to ear infections, specifically otitis media. Their Eustachian tubes are not angled to as effectively drain away bacteria. Frequent ear infections may necessitate having tubes inserted to assist with drainage of bacteria building up.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Visiting a licensed otolaryngologist to be diagnosed and treated is critical and may save your hearing. The physician will inspect the ear with an otoscope to look for inflammation, blockage, and infection. Treating an earache will depend greatly on its cause but could include antihistamines, antibiotics, decongestants, ear drops, or surgery.