How to Manage Ear Pain? The Most Common Causes of Ear Pain and Treatments

How to Manage Ear Pain? The Most Common Causes of Ear Pain and Treatments

Ear Pain Caused by Otitis Media

Otitis Media is a middle ear infection. More often in occurs in little children, but adults also can be affected. Otitis symptoms include pain that becomes more severe at night.

Before starting to treat otitis media, you should get a diagnosis from your doctor and follow his recommendations. Your doctor might prescribe you antibiotics. As for other medications, ibuprofen and acetaminophen are helpful in managing ear pain as well. It can help your child to sleep better at night because it lowers the feeling of pain in ears.

Analgesic ear drops can be another method for curing ear infection. Ear drops have a local anesthetic, which is similar to lidocaine or bupivacaine.

Ear Pain Caused By Ruptured Ear Drum

A ruptured ear drum also can cause ear pain. The eardrum is a thin membrane that separates the middle ear from the outer ear. There are various causes why you may have a ruptured eardrum: an acoustic injury, a direct injury (when something was inserted in the ear) or barotrauma (because of flying on an airplane or scuba diving).

Your physician will likely discuss with you whether you need any surgical procedure to cure the ruptured ear drum or not. If you do surgery or medical repair of the eardrum (tympanoplasty), you may feel pain after. In case you feel pain after medical repair, oral analgesics can help. You may use both over-the-counter (ibuprofen and acetaminophen) and prescribed pain medications (e.g. opioids).

Ear Pain Caused by Otitis Externa (Swimmer’s ear)

Otitis Externa is an infection of the outer ear when a patient can feel rather severe pain. Other symptoms of swimmer’s ear infection include erythema, peeling skin and itchiness. Generally, this illness requires medical help. To relieve pain, you can apply a heating pad on the sore ear. You can also consider using pain medications – ibuprofen and acetaminophen.

Ear Pain Related to Perichondritis

Perichondrtitis is a painful inflammation of the tissue that surrounds the cartilage of the outer ear. Ear piercing, ear surgery or any other injury of the outer ear can cause Perichondritis. Over-the-counter analgesics can be helpful in managing this type of ear pain. In a severe case when the inflammation became bigger and requires surgery you will likely need prescribed drugs, such as Lortab and Percocet. To reduce swelling and pain you can also apply an ice pack on the ear.

Surgical Ear Pain or Ear Pain Caused by Injury

There are several treatments available for managing ear pain caused by injury or after surgery. Your doctor will recommend you an appropriate medication depending on your condition. Here is the list of possible options:

  • Heat and ice packs can be applied directly on the ear and can help to reduce pain and swelling. Be careful when using these options as you can damage a tissue.
  • NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories), for example ibuprofen and naproxen are very frequently used pain medications. Usually, they do not cause side effects, such as nausea or vomiting, but in the elderly or on patients with stomach diseases they can cause internal bleeding.
  • Ultram (tramadol) is a non-opioid analgesic that can be used to treat different types of pain. Although it is not very common, it still can cause nausea, vomiting, giddiness or prostration in some patients. Tramadol can be a good alternative for patients with an aversion to narcotic pain medication. Even though its exact mechanism is not completely understood, Ultram is thought to affect certain neurotransmitters in the brain that are responsible for the pain perception
  • Narcotic pain relievers, e.g. Lortab and Percocet are relatively safe if used properly and are effective in managing pain. Risk of addiction is low when these drugs are taken as directed. Some side effects include nausea, vomiting, increased fatigue, constipation and breathing problems.

Please note that you may feel an ear pain after some surgical procedures, such as the removal of tonsils and adenoids.

Other Methods to Treat Ear Pain

Many patients prefer to use non-pharmacological natural methods instead of taking pills to treat ear pain. These methods include distraction, facial or head massage, hypnosis, acupuncture and a variety of relaxation techniques.

You should talk to your doctor if you consider the use of any of these treatments. This applies particularly to serious illnesses, such as perichondritis, because it can affect the bones in your face. In this case, for example, a facial massage could be even detrimental rather than helpful.

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