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Earaches and Ear Cleaning

Though kids are often the targets of earaches, they trouble grownups as well. Earaches can happen in both ears, but usually only affect one ear at a time. The infection, which may cause a never-ending pain or an inconsistent ache in your ear, can also cause fever, dizziness and hearing loss.

Causes

  • Ear infection
  • Earwax buildup
  • Foreign objects in the ear (such as cotton swabs)
  • Sinus infection
  • Strep throat
  • Water or shampoo trapped in the ear
  • Eczema in the ear
  • Infected tooth
  • Perforated eardrum

Symptoms

Your earache may also come with one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Severe ear pain
  • Extreme headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of balance
  • Swelling around the ear
  • Pus or blood drainage from ear
  • Infected tooth
  • Perforated eardrum

Treatment

For an ear infection, your physician may prescribe oral antibiotics, eardrops, or both. Oftentimes antibiotics are not needed for middle ear infections because the infection will clear on its own. However, antibiotics may be needed for more severe infections and those that last longer than a few days. 

Your medical provider will use an otoscope to examine inside your ear to help make a diagnosis. If you do receive an antibiotic, make sure that you finish your prescription — it’s important. This helps to guarantee that the infection you’re suffering from will clear up completely. Don’t just skip the medications once your symptoms improve.

If your ear pain is caused by wax buildup, the doctor may prescribe wax-softening eardrops. This should cause the wax to fall out. Your physician may also flush out the wax or she may use a vacuum-suction device.

Should I go to Indigo?

MultiCare Indigo Urgent Care can diagnosis your earache. If you have an ear infection that requires antibiotics, we can prescribe you medication so it will get better. If you do not need an antibiotic, your medical provider can provide other treatment options to ease the pain.

It’s especially important to take infants and small children who show signs of ear pain (grabbing at their ears, inconsolable crying) to see a doctor.

If you have any of these symptoms along with your earache, it’s probably best for you to visit your nearest emergency department:

  • Swelling or a knot has formed behind or under the ear
  • You have difficulty moving parts of your face in the usual way
  • You have weakness or feel lethargic
  • Sudden high fever
  • Prolonged dizziness, loss of balance, extreme headaches
  • Seizures

Find an Indigo Urgent Care location near you.