Ear pain, medically known as otalgia, is often a result of a buildup of fluid in the middle ear, the part of the ear behind the eardrum. The pain can be sharp, dull or burning and can be temporary or constant. An earache is often caused by a malfunction of the Eustachian tube, which drains fluid from the middle ear. When the fluid is not drained properly, it builds up and causes pain or even hearing loss. A malfunction is likely to occur as a result of a cold or allergy which causes the Eustachian tube to be swollen shut. Our practice serves Bayside, Queens, Long Island, and surrounding areas.
Ear pain can be a symptom of many ear conditions. It is a common symptom that is present more often in children than in adults.
Conditions That Cause Ear Pain
- Middle ear infection
- Swimmer’s ear
- Infected cyst
- Ear pressure
- Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome
While alleviating the pain is important, so is determining the cause. Your doctor will assess your ear pain along with any other symptoms you may have and perform a medical examination to determine the cause of your ear pain. A thin probe called an otoscope is used to inspect inside the ear canal. If there is any fluid leaking from the ear, a sample can be analyzed. If the problem is suspected to be neurological, an MRI or CAT scan may be performed.
Ear Pain Treatment Options
Treatment for ear pain depends upon the cause of the pain. Treatment options can include:
- Cleaning the ear
- Oral or topical antibiotics
- Equalizing pressure
- Removal of ear wax
Causes Of ear wax (cerumen)
Cerumen is produced by glands is the ear canal. Excessive accumulation causes fullness, hearing loss, and pain.
While some causes of ear pain cannot be prevented, it is important to maintain proper ear care and avoid unnecessary pain. Avoiding loud environments and keeping objects out of the ear canal can help decrease the risk for ear pain.
Ear infections can occur at any age, but most often occur in children. Symptoms include pain, hearing loss, drainage, a clogged sensation, and imbalance. For young children, speech and language development may be affected. If infections continue to recur, or fluid persists in the middle ear despite treatment with antibiotics, ventilation tubes may be placed in the ear to restore normal hearing and break the cycle of recurrent ear infections.
Is it safe to use a Q-tip to clean my ears?
NO! Q-tips are more likely to push wax further into the ear canal then to remove it. Using a Q-tip may also scratch the ear canal and cause bleeding. Perforations of the ear drum have occurred with Q-tip use.
What is the safest way to clean my ears?
We recommend using a tissue with your finger to dry your ears after showering/bathing. Some people accumulate significant amounts of wax that periodically requires removal in our office.