What Causes an Earache?

Q: I have an awful earache. What should I do?
-By Sama

Reply:

The commonest reason for such ear aches is a throat infection. This could be viral (flu) or bacterial in origin.

Do you have any other symptom like cough, running nose, throat pain, fever, body ache, fatigue etc.?

There is a tube like passage called eustachian tube which connects the throat with the middle ear. When we have any throat infection, this tube also gets affected and the resultant pressure is felt in the middle ear. The sensory nerve endings of the ear drum feel this pressure and give pain. This earache can be very excruciating.

You may need antibiotics (like augmentin) and over the counter pain relievers (acetaminophen) to treat it. 

Other Reasons of Pain in the Ears

There may many other reasons of ear ache. The diagnosis is made on the basis of examination and associated symptoms. 

These include:

  • Any dental problem. Pain in tooth or jaw gets referred to the ear.
  • A dental abscess, formed by decay in a tooth.
  • Impacted wax in the ear.
  • Infection of the outer ear, may be a boil or a furuncle.
  • Eczema of the ear canal.
  • Ear injury.
  • Sinus infection, the pain may be referred to the ear.

Let us know any other symptom you have. If it’s a throat infection, you may require antibiotics.

Take Care,

Buddy M.D.

Medical Advice (Q&As) on “What Causes an Ear ache?

  1. Misty

    I tore the tissue in my ear canal. Then I started breaking out in these bumps. It feels as if I am being bit by something under my skin. I also have a lot if fluid built up under my skin. Could this be staph?

    Reply
  2. MB

    Good day,
    I had seek a Doc to remove a cotton swab left inside my right ear like 3 weeks ago. After a week, my ear started to itch badly that I need to use a cotton bud just to ease the itchiness. I’ve felt mild pain and itchiness at same time but not always and my husband told me to use peroxide sometimes to clean it. I am worrying if I’ve got an ear infection though I don’t usually feel pain but more on itchiness in everyday. Please help, thank you Doc!

    Reply
        1. Buddy M.D. Post author

          Likely to be an infection. You may start using ciprofloxacin ear drops, two drops, in both the ears. Use it for a week.

          If it doesn’t improve, you need to see an ENT for physical exam.

          Reply
  3. mollie

    HI Doctor

    I have had a ear ache in the right ear for a few days now, it doesn’t actually ache but when I move my face just generally or to the right side (lean the face to the right side) then it becomes uncomfortable.
    I dont know what could be causing it first I thought it could be using earphones but I dont think that’s the cause. My jaw on this side was hurting too but that stopped (maybe I ate something hard) and the only problem I have is with the ear (sometimes it feels like the pain is travelling up the face on the right side if I move it), could it be ear wax being pushed in? or could it be an infection?
    would you recommend trying olive oil drops before seeing the doctor

    Reply
    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      Any pain in throat or cough? If yes, this could be related.

      If not, this could be ear wax. Try softening your ear wax by using over the counter available ear wax softening liquid, like Soliwax etc.

      Reply