Before discussing when to see a doctor for ear pain, we should learn a little bit more about what might be causing the ear pain in question. 

Middle ear infections, also called acute otitis media, usually occur alongside other illnesses that cause congestion and swelling of the nasal passages connecting the nose and throat. Your ears contain eustachian tubes that are responsible for air pressure regulation and the drainage of the ear canal. When these tubes swell, moisture can be trapped inside the ear canal, creating an environment where infection may take hold. 

Middle ear infections should not be confused with infections of the outer ear, which are commonly referred to as “swimmer’s ear.” In an outer ear infection, pain is usually localized near the opening of the ear. Pain symptoms may increase when pressure is applied to the earlobe.

Symptoms Possible Causes of Ear Pain

Ear infections occur most commonly in children. You can learn more about the signs and symptoms of ear infections in children here. In adults, symptoms of ear infections can include ear pain, excess drainage of fluid from the ear, and difficulty hearing

Possible causes of ear infections in adults include, but are not limited to: 

  • Arthritis in the jaw
  • Earwax buildup
  • Pressure changes
  • A hole in the eardrum
  • An object stuck in the ear
  • Sinus infection
  • Sore throat
  • Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ)
  • Tooth infection
person with ear pain

Home Remedies For Ear Infections

Ear infections usually resolve on their own, so at-home treatments often focus on treating symptoms rather than providing a cure. That being said, there are reliable at home remedies for treating an ear infection, including:

  • Taking over-the-counter pain relievers.
  • Applying a hot or cold compress to reduce pain and swelling.
  • Getting adequate rest.
  • Gargling salt water.

When to See a Doctor for Ear Pain

In cases of mild pain, it is often not necessary to see your doctor for an ear infection. However, you should be aware of signs that your ear infection is getting worse and might require medical attention

Reach out to a medical professional for help if:

  • Your ear pain is severe.
  • You observe a discharge of fluid, pus, or bloody liquid.
  • At-home treatment is proving ineffective.
  • You experience hearing loss.
  • You have a stiff neck.
  • You experience severe drowsiness.
  • You experience nausea or vomiting.
  • You have a high fever.
  • You have experienced a recent blow to the ear or head trauma.

It is also important to note that if severe pain associated with an ear infection suddenly stops, your eardrum may have ruptured. If you suspect that your eardrum has ruptured, head to your nearest urgent care to receive medical attention.

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Village Emergency Centers Can Help

For help with severe pain from an ear infection and to get the care you deserve, take the road to Village! A team of trained medical professionals is waiting at each of our state-of-the-art emergency facilities to assist you. Visit our website to learn more about our services and to find your Village today.