Your Local Pharmacist is

Jay Koovarjee

 92 Pitt St
Sydney NSW 2000
ph: (02) 9221 0091
fax: (02) 8880-8326

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:: Earache

Everyday Ailments - Earache
  Everyday Ailments

Earaches can cause great discomfort and pain.  They are usually caused by an infection or disease in the ear, nose, mouth or throat.  They may also be an indication of infection or injury to the jaw.  Many people experience earache in altitude or air pressure such as on an airplane.  Earache may also be caused by a build-up of ear wax or an object, growth or insect in the ear.

Earaches are quite common in children, especially under the age of 8.  A frequent cause of earache in children is middle ear infection or otitis media. The infection often begins as a cold, sinus infection, or throat infection. The tubes that connect the ear to the nasal passages are more narrow and shorter in children. With an upper respiratory infection, these tubes become swollen. The swelling can block these small tubes causing fluid build-up in the middle ear. The fluid becomes a breeding ground for bacteria or viruses.

Adults also may develop this infection but not as often as children under 8 years. Middle ear infection in adults may cause earaches, hearing loss, and a feeling of blockage in the ear.  

Signs & Symptoms:

Earache can include the following symptoms:

  • A sharp, dull, or throbbing pain
  • Difficulty hearing - things sound mumbled
  • A feeling of pressure or blockage may also be present
  • Children usually tug at their ear or rub on the painful ear
  • Fever, dizziness, nausea, or vomiting may also occur with earaches
  • Buzzing in the ears
  • Symptoms might also include coloured nasal discharge, fever, dizziness, and loss of appetite

Common ear problems include:

  • Wax - a common cause of hearing loss
  • Otitis externa (inflammation of the out ear canal) - inflammation is commonly caused by an infection - often known as "swimmer's ear"
  • Otitis media (infection of the middle ear compartment) - an infection that causes the Eustachian tube (a small tube that keeps the pressure normal in the middle ear) to block and causes fluid to build up in the middle ear.  This fluid can be infected with bacteria
  • Glue Ear - in some children, the fluid which forms in the middle ear does not drain out completely, causing frequent infections
  • Inner ear problems - cause hearing loss - the most common cause is infection, usually viral



The ear canal is very delicate. It is never a good idea to put anything in your ear that has not been prescribed.

A doctor may prescribe one or more medications to treat the cause of the earache. Some cases may require a medical procedure or surgery.

Take children with earache to a doctor as soon as possible.

If you have had a discharge from your ears, a recent ear infection or have had a burst eardrum in the past, do not use eardrops unless you have had your eardrum checked first.

Some self care may help:

  • If wax in the ear, ear drops can often unblock the ear - do not use hairpins, cotton buds, etc as they can push wax further down the ear canal
  • To prevent "swimmer's ear", use drying ear drops before and after swimming, and/or water repelling ear plugs.  Shake water from the ears after swimming
  • For otitis media, treat a runny nose or blocked nose with nasal decongestant to keep infection from moving up the Eustachian tube to the middle ear
  • Avoid swimming with a stuffy nose

More Information:


Ask Your Pharmacist about:

  • about suitable creams and ointments 


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