Earaches in Adults: What You Need to Know

An earache can ruin your day. Adults get them for different reasons like infections, changes in pressure, or even wax build-up. Whether it’s mild discomfort or a sharp pain, earaches are a signal that something’s not quite right in your ear.

Why Do You Get Earaches?

So, why do earaches happen in the first place? Mostly, they’re a sign that some part of your ear isn’t doing so great. Maybe you have an infection, or perhaps you just flew in an airplane, and the change in air pressure messed with your ears.

Earaches in Adults: What You Need to Know

Ear Infections

Often, infections are the culprit. Bacteria or viruses get inside your middle ear and make it swell up. This is usually accompanied by other symptoms like fever and hearing problems. According to health experts, ear infections are common causes of earaches.

Pressure Changes

Ever go swimming and feel like your ears are about to pop? Or maybe you felt it during a flight? Changes in pressure can give you an earache. This happens because your eardrum, a thin layer inside your ear, doesn’t like these sudden changes.

Wax Build-up

Another reason might be too much earwax. Yes, earwax is natural and helps keep your ears clean, but sometimes there’s just too much of it. When that happens, it can press against your eardrum and make it ache.

Throat Infections

You might be surprised to know that a sore throat can actually cause an earache. This happens because your throat and ears share some nerves. So when your throat hurts, your ear can feel the pain, too.

Dental Abscess

A dental abscess is basically a pocket of pus in your tooth caused by an infection. The pain can be so severe that it feels like your ear is hurting. So, if you have an earache along with tooth pain, a dental abscess could be the culprit.

Jaw Problems

Issues with your jaw, like TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders, can cause earaches. If you’re also experiencing jaw pain or a clicking sound when you chew, your jaw might be the reason your ear hurts.

How Can You Tell It’s Serious?

Alright, you’ve got an earache, but how do you know when it’s time to visit a doctor?

  • Duration: If your earache sticks around for more than a day or two, it’s probably time to get some professional advice.
  • Additional Symptoms: Also, if you start experiencing other problems like high fever, difficulty hearing, or even drainage from your ear, don’t wait. Head to the doctor right away.
  • Intensity: Another indicator is the intensity of the pain. A mild ache is usually less concerning than a sharp, unbearable pain.

How to Deal with It

You’re not helpless when you get an earache. There are some things you can do to feel better.

Over-the-Counter Medicine

Pain relievers like ibuprofen can help. However, make sure to read the directions and consult your doctor, especially if you’re already on some medication.

Warm Compress

A warm cloth or a heating pad against your ear might also help relieve the pain. But make sure it’s not too hot, as you don’t want to end up burning your skin.

Ear Drops

There are also ear drops designed to soften wax and relieve pain. Again, it’s wise to ask a doctor before you use them, particularly if you’re not sure what’s causing your earache.

How Can You Prevent Earaches?

To help avoid earaches, make sure to keep your ears clean and dry. This means not sticking cotton swabs too far into your ear, as that can push wax further in.

Also, if you’re prone to sinus problems, consider using a humidifier or saline nose drops to keep your nasal passages clear.

Another trick? Chew gum while flying. The chewing action can help regulate the pressure in your ears, which might prevent earaches caused by altitude changes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Adults Get Ear Infections, Too, or Is It Just a Kids’ Thing?

Absolutely, adults can get ear infections as well. While it’s true that children are more likely to get them, no one is immune. If you’re an adult and you’re experiencing an earache, it could very well be an infection. So, don’t brush it off thinking it’s a “kids-only” issue.

Are Earaches Contagious?

Good question! Earaches themselves aren’t contagious, but the infections that often cause them can be. If you have a cold or respiratory infection, those germs can easily spread to others. So, while someone won’t catch an “earache” from you, they could catch whatever caused it. Keep that in mind and practice good hygiene.

How Long Do Earaches Usually Last?

The duration of an earache can vary. If it’s due to something like a change in air pressure, it might go away on its own in a few hours. However, if it’s an infection, it can last longer. According to medical professionals, if your earache doesn’t go away after 48-72 hours, you should see a doctor.

Can I Swim if I Have an Earache?

Swimming with an earache is not a great idea. Water can make an existing ear condition worse, especially if it’s due to an infection. Also, the pressure change from diving can aggravate your symptoms. So, it’s better to stay out of the pool until you’re feeling better.

Can Earwax Removal Kits Make My Earache Go Away?

Earwax removal kits can help if your earache is caused by a wax build-up. However, these kits are not a cure-all. If you suspect an infection or other serious condition, a kit won’t solve the problem. Therefore, it’s important to consult a doctor to get to the root cause of your earache.

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