Earache can be terrible. It is possibly second only to toothache in terms of the severity of the pain that it causes. People are often desperate for a remedy and will try anything! Here are a few top tips.
Paracetamol. Don't underestimate this powerful painkiller. Try it before you try anything else! Make sure you stick to the correct dose.
Ibuprofen. This excellent anti-inflammatory also has pain relieving qualities. It can be taken with paracetamol at the same time. Check with yur pharmacist if you are not sure. If your earache is caused by inflammation then this can help to unblock your passageways and ease the pressure on the drum. Ibuprofen is safer than the other other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like naproxen. These are more likely to cause stomach ulcers and bleeding.
Decongestants. Sometimes earache is caused by a cold causing inflammation in the nasal passages. This blocks the Eustachian tube and prevents drainage of the middle ear. Fluids can build up causing pressure and pain. You can ease the infmation by inhaling steam, Olbas Oil or eucalyptus oil. You could also try decongestants such as pseudoephedrine. This works by stopping fluid pooling in swollen tissues by constricting the tiny blood vessels.
Steroid spray. In the same way as a cold can cause inflammation in the nasal passage, so can an allergy. Hayfever and allergy to fungal spores or dust may cause swelling at the back of the nose. Steroid sprays containing Beclometasone such as Beconase can be helpful. They are effective at reducing inflammation and unblocking your passages. An antihistamine may also help.
Antibiotics. If simple remedies do not help then you may need to see a doctor. There are several causes for earache which will not go away with just painkillers and decongestants. Visit your doctor for an ear examination, if you have signs of infection then you may need antibiotic drops or tablets. Outer ear infection is less often associated with earache. It is treated with drops containing antibiotics and steroids. Middle ear infection tends to cause more pain due to stretching of the eardrum and requires tablets antibiotics to get it under control.
Vegetables. The internet has many pages describing the use of various vegetable oils and extracts to ease earache. These include olive oil, garlic oil, onion and ginger. These may well help with a mild outer ear itching and inflammation. Severe earache is likely to be caused by a middle ear infection which these will not help. If the pain is not eased by the over-the-counter remedies mentioned above then these other therapies are unlikely to help either. If you do not like using these medicines then you could try the alternative remedies instead. Do not delay seeing a doctor if the symptoms do not settle quickly.
Summary. Try over the counter painkillers and decongestants. If these do not help quickly you are likely to need to see a doctor. Alternative therapies have their place in mild conditions but if you have severe earache which does not settle rapidly you must see a doctor.
Please do not use this article as medical advice, for information purposes only.
Dr Toby Bateson for zenplugs.com