Earache

If you have earache, you may also have other symptoms, like a high temperature or hearing loss. Earache can be harder to spot in young children.

Taking painkillers and placing a warm or cold flannel on your ear can help ease earache. You can also get treatments like eardrops from a pharmacy.

Common causes of earache include ear infections, a build-up of earwax in your ear and fluid in your ear (glue ear).

A young child might have earache if they:

  • rub or pull their ear
  • do not react to some sounds
  • have a temperature of 38C or above
  • are irritable or restless
  • are off their food
  • keep losing their balance

Earache and ear pain can affect 1 or both ears.

There are some things you can do to help relieve earache and ear pain.


Do

  • use painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen (children under 16 should not take aspirin)

  • place a warm or cold flannel on the ear


Don't

  • do not put anything inside your ear, such as cotton buds

  • do not try to remove earwax

  • do not let water get inside your ear

A pharmacist might be able to tell you:

  • what you can do to treat earache yourself
  • if you can buy anything to help (for example, eardrops)
  • if you need to see a GP

Earache and pain can be caused by many things, but sometimes it's not known by what.

Here are some of the most common causes:

Symptoms: Ear pain with toothache
Possible condition: Children teething, dental abscess

Symptoms: Ear pain with change in hearing
Possible condition: Glue ear, earwax build-up, an object stuck in the ear (do not try to remove it yourself – see a GP), perforated eardrum (particularly after a loud noise or accident)

Symptoms: Ear pain with pain when swallowing
Possible condition: Sore throat, tonsillitis, quinsy (a complication of tonsillitis)

Symptoms: Ear pain with a fever
Possible condition: Ear infection, flu, cold


Page last reviewed: 06-08-2019
Next review due:06-08-2022

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