Earache is not a disease of its own but is a symptom of a particular disease. Earache can have many different causes - especially often a middle ear infection is behind the complaints. Earache often occurs with a cold or sore throat, while chewing or during pregnancy. Most affected, however, are children. But what helps with earache? We've put together typical treatment options and some effective home remedies for earache.
Earache has many causes
Earache can be a sign of ear disease, but it can also have other causes. If there is an ear disease, either auricle, ear canal, eardrum, middle ear or inner ear are affected. A disease of one of these parts is called primary otalgia. Ear pain most commonly occurs through inflammation in the middle ear and the external auditory canal.
However, there are other possible causes of earache (secondary otalgia), for example:
- Diseases of the teeth or the temporomandibular joint
- Diseases of the nasopharynx or larynx
- Nerve inflammations in the face
- Problems with the cervical spine
- Inflammation of the parotid gland
- Changes in air pressure (for example when diving and flying, but also in case of an explosion or a blow to the ear)
Typical accompanying symptoms of earache
Ear pain can be unilateral or bilateral and have a heavy or stinging character. They are usually relatively strong and often do not let up at night.
Depending on the cause behind the earache, earache may be accompanied by various symptoms. This can lead to dizziness, ear noise, a foreign body sensation in the ear and a hearing loss. Below you will find more detailed information on individual causes of earache and symptoms.
Inflammations in the middle ear and external auditory canal
Inflammations in the middle ear and the external auditory canal are the most common causes of earache. A middle ear infection usually arises as a result of a cold: bacteria from the nasopharynx reach the middle ear and there they cause an inflammation.
Inflammation of the external auditory canal, on the other hand, is an infection of the ear canal skin caused by bacteria or fungi. Often, such inflammation is caused by exaggerated ear hygiene, injuries by cotton swabs or invading bath water.
Typical accompanying symptoms of earache caused by middle ear infection are hearing problems, fever and dizziness. In an auditory canal infection, the ear is also swollen and itchy. In both cases, there may also be discharge from the ear.
Injuries of the auricle and eardrum
If there is a severe hearing loss in addition to earache, this may be a sign of ear canal obstruction due to earwax or a foreign body in the ear. In the case of a foreign body, there is often a pressure pain in the ear.
If the eardrum is injured, the earache is very sudden and stinging. There is a serious hearing loss, tinnitus and dizziness as well as a loss of fluid or blood over the ears. The eardrum can be injured both by internal inflammations, as well as by strong air pressure fluctuations or noise effects.
If the auricle or the earlobe is red and swollen, this indicates an injury and inflammation of the outer ear. Such inflammation occurs when, through wounds or irritated skin - for example, after the piercing of a piercing - bacteria penetrate into the tissue. If there is such an inflammation, the ear tenses frequently and feels warm.
Nasopharyngeal space and earache
If earache is not caused by an inflammation in the ear itself, but by inflammation in the nasopharynx or larynx, in addition to earache other symptoms appear. This includes:
- a headache
- Sore throat
- to cough
- difficulties swallowing
The cause for the earache may be, among other things, tonsillitis, sinusitis or pharyngitis. But mouth, throat or throat cancer, mumps or the Pfeiffer's glandular fever can come as a cause in question.
Earache due to jaw and neck problems
Problems in the jaw area can also lead to unpleasant earache: For example, tense masticatory muscles, bite deformities, erupting wisdom teeth or inflammation in the jaw can affect the ears.
In addition to earache, it can cause pain in the teeth and in the temporomandibular joint, bleeding gums and headaches. In addition, if the muscles of the jaw are cramped by nocturnal teeth grinding, the muscles around the shoulders and neck can also hurt.
Such symptoms may also indicate cervical spine problems. If this is the case, there is usually additional pain when moving the cervical spine. In such a case, you should definitely visit an orthopedist.
Earache in children
Children are particularly prone to earache, especially small children usually have several times in the first years of life to fight earaches. Boys are more often affected by earache than girls.
Especially earache in children is the result of a middle ear infection. This is because the connecting tube between the nasopharynx and middle ear is shorter and more horizontal in children than in adults. In the case of a cold or flu, bacteria can easily enter the middle ear and cause inflammation there.
Infants are often whiny in earache and often rub their ears. Often also occur general symptoms of illness such as fever, abdominal pain, diarrhea or vomiting. If your child has earache, be sure to call a doctor to check the cause of earache.