Everything You Need to Know About Earaches and Ear Infections

woman covering ears

If you’re experiencing pain in your ear, it could be due to an earache or an ear infection. Both conditions can be quite uncomfortable, but there are ways to tell them apart. This article will discuss everything you need to know about earache and ear infections, their symptoms, prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

What Are the Symptoms of Earache or an Ear Infection?

A build-up of wax or an object stuck in the ear usually causes earaches. Sinus infections, colds, or allergies can also cause them. Ear infections, on the other hand, are usually caused by bacteria or viruses.

Several symptoms are common to both earaches and ear infections. These include pain in the ear, a feeling of fullness, and decreased hearing. However, some symptoms are specific to each condition.

Earache Symptoms

– Pain that gets worse when you move your jaw or chew

– A dull, constant pain

– A sharp, shooting pain

– A feeling of fullness in the ear

Ear Infection Symptoms

– Pain that gets worse when you lie down

– A high fever

– Nausea or vomiting

– Diarrhea

– A pus-like discharge from the ear

– Swelling around the ear

How Are Earaches and Ear Infections Diagnosed?

Your doctor will likely ask about your symptoms and medical history and perform a physical exam of your ears, head, and neck. They may also order a hearing test. In some cases, they may need to look inside your ear with an instrument called an otoscope. 

If they suspect you have an ear infection, they may also order a tympanogram, which is a test that measures how well your eardrum moves.

How Are Earaches and Ear Infections Treated?

Earaches can be relieved with a warm compress. They are usually treated with over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Your doctor may prescribe a stronger pain reliever if the pain is severe. 

Ear infections are usually treated with antibiotics. The doctor can give you over-the-counter fever reducers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen if you have a fever. 

What Can You Do to Prevent Earaches and Ear Infections?

There are a few things you can do to prevent earaches and ear infections.

1. Avoid Getting Water in Your Ears

Try to avoid getting water in your ears when you are swimming or bathing. If you do get water in your ears, use a cotton ball to dry them out. 

You can also use a warm, dry cloth to clean your ears after showering or swimming.

2. Avoid Putting Objects in Your Ears

These objects include cotton swabs, bobby pins, fingers and other objects to clean your ears. If you must clean your ears, do so gently with a soft, damp cloth. 

3. Avoid Exposure to Cold Temperatures or Windy Conditions

If you must be in cold weather, wear a hat or earmuffs to protect your ears. 

4. Avoid Triggers If You Have Allergies

If you have allergies, try to avoid triggers, such as pollen, pet dander, and dust. If you are exposed to triggers, take antihistamines or use a nasal spray to help reduce symptoms. You may also use a humidifier. 


It is important to know the difference between earaches and ear infections. Wax buildup often causes earaches, while viruses or bacteria usually cause ear infections. Symptoms vary for each of them.

If you have an earache, you may be able to treat it at home with a warm compress or over-the-counter medication. However, if you have an ear infection, you will likely need to see a doctor and be treated with antibiotics.

There are also ways you can prevent earache and ear infections, like avoiding water and objects in your ears, cold temperatures and windy conditions, and allergens.

If you’re looking for a hearing clinic in Langley that can help you with your hearing aid issues, look no further than Fraser Valley Beltone. We take a unique approach to hearing care that is based on connecting with our patients on a personal level and understanding what is important to them in life. This allows us to provide them with the best possible care and treatment plan. Contact us today to learn more about what we can do for you!

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