What are the causes of earaches?


Quick Answer

Healthline reports that common causes of earaches include infection, changes in pressure, ear wax buildup, sore throat, sinus infection and a foreign object or water in the ear. Less commonly, dental conditions like a tooth infection or an impacted tooth can cause ear pain.

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Full Answer

Earaches accompanied by high fever or severe pain require medical attention, according to MedlinePlus. Likewise, patients experiencing ear pain with dizziness, swelling, headache or weakness of the facial muscles should be examined by a physician. Severe ear pain that suddenly stops and earaches that last over 48 hours can be signs of more serious conditions.

Earaches that do not require a doctor's visit can be treated at home, maintains Healthline. Over-the-counter pain relievers or ear drops may provide some relief. Chewing gum, eating and sitting upright can alleviate pain caused by pressure changes. Cold, wet washcloths can be applied but take care to avoid getting water in the ear.

To prevent future earaches, avoid secondhand smoke and allergens, keep the ear free of foreign objects and dry the ears well after swimming or showering. Nasal sprays containing steroids may be prescribed to prevent earaches caused by chronic infections, but MedlinePlus warns that over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants are ineffective for this purpose.

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