Earache – Causes, Treatment


Earache is usually strong painful stimuli around the ear. These include the inner ear, middle ear, auricle and also the outer areas of the ear. In most cases, injuries, infections and inflammations are the cause of earache

What is earache?

Earache is all a collective term for all forms of pain around the ear. These include both the inner ear, the middle ear, and the outer ear. In addition, pain around the auricle is also counted among the earaches.

The outer ear includes, among other things, the ear canal and the ear canal bones. If swelling or inflammation occurs here, it can lead to earache. In the middle ear, on the other hand, pus formation due to inflammation occurs more frequently. If the pus does not drain properly, strong pressure can occur, which can also cause pain.

Earache can come in different forms and intensities. One knows stabbing, pressing, one-sided and bilateral earache. Sometimes they appear slowly, but sometimes quite suddenly. Pain can also occur when chewing or pressing through glasses on the nerves on the head and temple.

Furthermore, earache is often accompanied by other symptoms, such as hearing losstinnitus and dizziness. Less often, blood can also flow from the ear. Painkillers can only help to a limited extent against earache. Visiting a doctor is advisable.


The causes of earache are manifold. However, the most common reasons are inflammation in the outer area of the ear (ear canal) as well as the middle ear. For the latter case, the middle ear infection in the context of a cold is commonly known. This bacteria-induced disease usually occurs in smaller children between the ages of three and seven.

Another typical cause is the so-called otitis external, which is an infection of the ear canal skin. This leads to infection with bacteria, which can occur as a result of excessive cleaning with cotton swabs. Leaking dirty water can also trigger this bacterial infection.

The following is a list of other causes of earache:

  • Closure of the ear canal by earwax or dirt
  • Infections and inflammation of the auricle and auricle
  • Pinched nerves in the area of the ear (e.g. through tight-fitting glasses)
  • Diseased teeth or jaws
  • Strong pressure change (e.g. when flying, mountaineering, driving in the mountains and diving, explosion or blows)

Diseases with this symptom


Earache usually proceeds without major complications. However, if the symptoms are based on a serious underlying disease such as a middle ear infection, the entire ear canal and in the further course also the meninges can become inflamed. In addition to paralysis of the facial nerves and meningitis, serious brain abscesses are among the possible complications of a severe course.

In rare cases, the bacteria migrate into the inner ear and trigger a so-called toxic labyrinthitis with tinnitusdizziness and balance disorders. Finally, it can also lead to complete hearing loss. If a disease in the jaw-tooth area is the cause, inflammation can occur if not treated; an abscess in the mouth and throat poses other risks.

As part of treatment, complications rarely occur. In addition to medication intolerance or complications during surgery, home remedies such as ear sticks or ear rinses pose dangers, especially if they are used without consulting the doctor. In order to avoid complications, any treatment steps should first be discussed with the responsible doctor. A risk-free treatment of earache is possible after clarification of the underlying disease in most cases.

When to go to the doctor?

In the case of earache, extreme caution is required, because a variety of complications are associated with this clinical picture. In most cases, earache is due to an infection caused by bacteria inside the ear. Affected persons can fall back on some home remedies or on their own medicine chest at the first signs. However, if there is no significant improvement after one or two days, going to the doctor is strongly recommended.

Whether your own family doctor is consulted or an ear doctor is absolutely irrelevant, if it is a middle ear infection. A doctor will prescribe appropriate medication to the affected person, which will effectively and quickly combat the earache. However, if such treatment is dispensed with, then dangerous and significant complications threaten. Under certain circumstances, the infection can spread throughout the body, so that further complaints are added. These include a general malaise, headache, elevated temperature or chills.

So if you want to avoid the mentioned clinical pictures, you should consult a doctor at an early stage. Already at the first signs of earache, early treatment can be beneficial. In this way, the inflammation is inhibited from the beginning, so that the infection can not spread further.

Treatment & Therapy

Treatment of earache should always be performed by a doctor or ear, nose and throat doctor. First of all, the doctor will ask the patient about his pain. After that, he will examine the auricle and the ear canal more closely. If necessary, an ear endoscopy (otoscopy) is also necessary.

Hearing loss and blockages of the ear can be examined by the otolaryngologist with a tube function test. Hearing tests are also suitable for further diagnosis. If the cause is still unclear, an X-ray can also provide further insight. Likewise, blood tests and swabs of the inner walls of the ear can provide further information about the causes of the earache.

Depending on the cause, treatment is then initiated. If the ears are inflamed, anti-inflammatory ointments are recommended. If the infection is well advanced, may also be prescribed.

Ear drops are mostly used in the course of a middle ear infection, which are both anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving. Sometimes the eardrum must also be cut to release the pus formed.

Earwax and foreign bodies are removed by the otolaryngologist using medical instruments. If the eardrum is injured, it usually heals on its own in one to two weeks. However, if complications occur, an artificial eardrum can also be used surgically.

If the earache is only a side effect of various other underlying diseases, these should be treated primarily.

↳ More information: Home remedies for earache

Outlook & Forecast

In many cases, earache can be treated relatively well and therefore does not have to lead to a reduced quality of life. They often occur with colds or flu as a concomitant symptom and usually disappear even if the patient is completely healthy. No direct treatment is necessary for these temporary earaches. Here the ear must be given warmth and rest to regenerate.

However, if the earache lasts longer or occurs after an accident, it is essential to consult a doctor. In the worst case, there is a severe inflammation in the ear. This inflammation can have a negative effect on hearing, so hearing loss can also occur.

The earache may also indicate an injury to the eardrum. Not infrequently, the earache also occurs when the patient has in the head or teeth. In these cases, the earache cannot be treated directly, but disappears with the treatment of the triggering pain.

A middle ear infection can be cured relatively well and usually does not lead to further discomfort or complications. In most cases, however, earache is temporary and disappears after a short time.

What you can do yourself

Persistent earache requires medical clarification in any case. Acute complaints, such as those that can occur during landing in an aircraft or contact with drafts, can be alleviated by regular, conscious , chewing gum or pressure compensation. Nasal drops or can be used to accompany this.

Earache caused by blocked ears is reduced with baby oil or gentle jaw movements, while pain caused by a cold is most easily relieved by bed rest and drinking plenty of fluids. In addition, various home remedies and measures can reduce the symptoms. As a first aid measure, a warm envelope with honey or chopped is recommended, which is attached directly behind the ear. Alternatively, other warm or hot applications such as ear vapor, heated oil or chamomile surcharges can be used.

For acute pain, a cold wrap or Prießnitz impact on the ear is recommended, which can be combined with healing earth or herbal tea at the beginning of the inflammation. In addition, the ears should be protected from cold, moisture or drafts so that any inflammation can heal quickly. So that it does not come to earache in the first place, the immune system should be strengthened by a vitamin-rich and balanced diet.

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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.