Earaches are not just a childhood malady; they occur in people of all ages. No one has time in their busy lives to deal with ear pain or its various annoying and unpleasant symptoms. Adults can learn many ways to identify, treat and prevent earaches.
Otalgia is pain in the ear. Earaches are usually caused by an infection of the ear but conditions in other parts of the body can also cause the pain, such as tooth or jaw problems or various ailments such as spine pain or digestive tract problems.
Ear pain occurs in all parts of the ear--the middle and outer portions and the bone behind the ear.
Symptoms of an earache are varied: pain when swallowing or chewing or blowing the nose, a dull aching deep in the ear canal, irritability, difficulty sleeping, ear sensitivity when touched, fever or a desire to pull or tug at the ear.
Earaches can occur when descending from high altitudes in an airplane. Chewing gum or swallowing will usually relieve the pressure.
If you suspect your earache is due to trauma to the ear, or from swimming or bathing and not drying your ears properly, you can treat the pain with over-the-counter analgesics and ear drops. Use decongestants if you suspect allergies. If symptoms do not subside within 24 to 48 hours, see your doctor.
Your physician can examine the eardrum and check for signs of redness, swelling or infection. He may prescribe one of many oral antibiotics available for earaches. Steroid or antibiotic ear drops are also available.
To avoid earaches, never stick an object in your ear. Dry the ear canal thoroughly after shampooing your hair or swimming; do this by using a clean, soft dry towel. Smoking is harmful to your body and can aggravate conditions that may lead to ear infections.
Control your allergies. Steroid nasal sprays can help prevent ear infections by lessening the effects of allergy triggers, particularly for seasonal allergies.
See your doctor if you experience dizziness, headache or swelling around the ear with pain. Weak facial muscles or sharp severe pains are signs that you need immediate medical attention.
If you have seen a doctor and your symptoms do not get better after 24 to 48 hours, or if they worsen, see your doctor again. Untreated earaches can sometimes result in hearing loss or rupturing of the eardrum.