There are number of things that may cause an earache. One of the most common things is fluid filling the ear and causing pressure to build behind the eardrum.
This is often the result of either a viral infection, like a common cold, or a bacterial infection in the body.
When the infection causes the fluid to build up in the ear, it can become very painful and immediate relief is often wanted to be able to get some rest.
Causes of Ear Pain
As briefly mentioned, there are a number of different causes of ear pain in a person. Some of the most common causes of ear pain include a common cold or flu, an infected tooth, or jaw pain.
It may also be caused by fluid building up in the ear and an infection developing in the inner ear. Or it might be caused by an infection in the outer ear or ear canal, or even a skin condition in the ear canal.
To know for sure what the cause is, you should consult your physician. But since ear pain often occurs when the doctor’s office is not available, it is important to know other remedies for ear pain in the meantime.
Symptoms of Ear Pain
When you get ear pain, it is pretty obvious. But if you suspect a child may have ear pain, and cannot tell you what the problem may be, there are a number of signs you can look for.
These include a child complaining of a stiff neck, trouble balancing from the fluid affecting their equilibrium, rubbing or tugging at their ear, being more irritable, having an elevated temperature, or complaining of not being able to hear normal.
While you know what ear pain is, if your child cannot explain it but appears to exhibit these symptoms, consider an earache to be the cause.
One of the first things you should do with ear pain is to take a dose of a pain reliever like tylenol or ibuprofen.
Since ear pain is often caused by inflammation in the ear, motrin is usually preferred over tylenol as it also helps to treat inflammation along with pain.
Taking one of these pain relievers can also help to reduce any fever that may be present as a result of an infection in the ear or elsewhere in the body.
Lastly, there are some times you should alternate between tylenol and Motrin to help with ear pain. If a child is not able to sleep, taking a dose of one and then the other a few hours later may help them to get enough relief to rest.
There are some eardrop pain relievers, but these usually will not work for inner ear pain, and many are only available by prescription.
While you wait for the pain reliever to begin working, take a warm compress and apply it to the ear that is hurting.
One option is to take a face wash cloth and wet it with warm water and hold it over the ear that is hurting. Or you can fill a hot water bottle with warm water and hold it to the painful ear.
One of the best warm compresses is to take an old sock, fill it with uncooked rice, tie the end off, and then warm it in the microwave for a few seconds.
Check the temperature before placing it on your ear, but then the warm rice bag can be used to lay on while you or your child tries to rest.
Lavender oil is an essential oil often found in many pharmacies and health food stores. You can diffuse it into the air or rub it on your temples.
The smell can be calming and soothing. It will help you to relax when you are experiencing ear pain.
You can also but a couple of drops in the warm bath water to sooth you or your child, or place a few drops on the warm compress to relax you. While it will not relieve the pain, it can help to calm an irritable child who is not able to sleep because of the ear pain.
This oil is not only soothing but has been used for years to treat a number of ailments. Non-food grade olive oil can be found in the pharmacy as “sweet oil” but most people already have it in their cupboards.
Simply take this oil and warm it so that it is soothing to the touch. Make sure it is not hot. Then place a couple of drops into the ear. Place a cotton ball into the ear to help the oil stay in place, and you will find the warmth and the soothing oil helps to relieve some of the pain and bring comfort.
It should be noted that if you or your child has ear tubes, do not put anything into the ear at any point in time, including olive oil, without the direction of a doctor to do so.
This essential oil can be diffused into the air or sprayed into the air. It can help to relieve and soothe airways in the body making it easier to breathe. If you ear pain is a result of sinus problems backing up into the ear, this remedy may be particularly helpful.
You can also add a couple drops to the hot shower so the steam helps to soothe your passages and the oil can work. It should be noted, this oil is not to be applied to the skin or in the ear. It may cause more pain, but in the air and not taken internally is how it is intended to be used.
Loosen Up Mucus
If the ear pain is being caused by sinuses that are backed up and keeping the ears from draining, it is important to get the mucus loosened up and flowing again.
One way this can be done is through the use of a neti pot. This is simply saline that is gently poured in the nose and rinses away excess mucus.
You can also blow your nose after using the neti pot or a steam treatment to help move things along.
This can help to relieve some of the pressure that is built up in the ear and bring about some relief. Lastly, massaging your sinuses can help to get things flowing again and make you feel better.
If you know sinus pressure is causing the ear pain, taking sinus medication or an expectorant, like Mucinex, may help to relieve the pressure being built up.
Just make sure any medication you take for sinuses is safe for you to take with other medical conditions you may have. And make sure you drink plenty of water to help break up the mucus and move it out of your body.
Sometimes when a person gets an ear pain, they do not feel like eating because swallowing hurts.
However, it is important to stay hydrated. Water and other clear fluids can help to flush the toxins out of your body and speed up the healing process. Warm tea and water can actually be soothing.
The steam and the warmth can bring some comfort while waiting for the pain reliever to kick-in.
If you have a child who is hurting and cannot relax, a tea of peppermint and chamomile might be soothing enough to bring them relief.
Even just slightly warm and not hot can help calm them enough to be able to get some sleep.
However, avoid drinking black tea or coffee if you are not feeling well. It can disrupt your sleep and also increase the likelihood of being dehydrated.
When to Call the Doctor
Sometimes people get ear pain, use a couple of home remedies and they do not have any additional pain the next morning.
Other times the pain continues or worsen the next day. If this is the case, call your doctor and get an acute care appointment with them to have your ears checked.
If you have a significantly high fever and home remedies do not appear to be providing any real relief, a phone call to your doctor is also warranted. Also keep in mind the hours of your doctor’s office.
If it is Friday and you have not had significant relief from your ear pain, if it worsens over the weekend, you will have to go to urgent care or the emergency department. If this is the case, you should call your doctor sooner than later to save yourself the time and cost of a weekend trip to the hospital for emergency treatment.
Also keep in mind any plans you might have. If you are looking to leave town, go to the doctor sooner than later.
Many doctors will confirm it is a viral infection and needs to run its course, but if it is a bacterial infection, antibiotics may be needed to help get relief.