Common causes of earache, which affects one or both ears, include an ear infection, injury, irritation, pressure changes and ear wax accumulation, notes Healthline. Use of cotton swabs, water in the ear, sore throat, sinus infection and a foreign object in the ear are also possible causes. Some people experience earaches due to referred pain, which is pain that occurs in other regions of the body aside from the infected or injured area.
Earaches occur constantly or intermittently, and they involve sharp or searing pain, states Healthline. People with ear infections sometimes suffer brief hearing loss and fever. Children with ear infections may also display irritability or rub their ears. In some cases, pain that comes from the teeth or jaw extends to the ear.
Other potential causes of earaches include a tooth infection, arthritis that affects the jaw, a perforated eardrum or temporomandibular joint syndrome, explains Healthline. Earache that aggravates or persists after 24 to 48 hours requires a physician's diagnosis. An earache with accompanying symptoms, such as high fever, dizziness, headache or swelling near the ear, also needs proper medical care.
For ear infections, doctors prescribe antibiotic eardrops or tablets, according to Healthline, which recommends wax-softening eardrops if the source of the ear pain is wax accumulation. Home treatment for earaches involves pressing a cold washcloth to the affected ear and sitting straight to reduce ear pressure.