Earache: Is It a Cold or an Ear Infection?

Children are more likely to experience earaches, even though adults can also suffer from this condition. Earaches can strike either ear, even though they most frequently afflict only one of the ears. The pain may be intermittent or continual, and it could be anywhere from bearable to excruciatingly painful.

A fever and temporary loss of hearing are two symptoms that may accompany an ear infection. Children in preschool suffer from ear infections frequently display signs, including sadness and irritability. In addition to that, they might wiggle or massage their ears. Ear infections are more common in children than in adults. Children are more prone to suffer from ear infections.

Because ear infections frequently resolve on their own, the initial treatment for them may consist of little more than relieving the associated pain and waiting it out. Antibiotics are a potential treatment option for infections in some circumstances. Infections in the ear canal can be a recurrent concern for specific individuals. Hearing impairment is just one of the many significant effects that might be expected.


Various conditions can bring on pain in the ear, but it is typically not a cause for concern. Ear pain can be divided into two categories: primary ear pain, which originates from an issue within the ear, and secondary ear pain, which originates from something external to the ear but is mistakenly interpreted as ear pain. A referred pain is "secondary ear pain," and it occurs when a person has pain in his ears that appears to come from somewhere else. Children have a significantly higher risk of developing primary ear pain than adults.

Infection or damage to a section of the ear brings on, most of the time, discomfort in the primary ear. Ear infections are the most prevalent cause of ear pain; however, many other potential reasons exist. Any part of the ear, including the outer, middle, or inner ear, is susceptible to infection.

An outer ear infection can be caused by swimming, wearing headphones or hearing aids that tear the skin within the ear canal or inserting objects like cotton swabs or fingers into the ear canal.

  • A scrape or inflammation of the skin in the ear canal can lead to an infection.

  • An outer ear infection can also be caused by putting objects like cotton swabs or fingers into the ear canal. After being exposed to water, the skin that lines the ear canal becomes more elastic, which may facilitate the growth of bacteria.

  • There is a possibility that respiratory infections could lead to an infection in the middle ear. The accumulation of fluid behind the eardrums that occurs directly from these conditions provides bacteria with an ideal environment to increase and cause infection.

  • Labyrinthitis is an infection of the inner ear that can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or both and is brought on by a respiratory ailment.

Other common causes of earaches include an accumulation of earwax, an object stuck in the ear, strep throat, a sinus infection, getting shampoo or water lodged in the ear, and inserting cotton swabs into the ear canal.


There are a few distinct potential causes that could be contributing to an individual's earache. Adults may have the following symptoms, albeit not always −

  • Hearing loss, earache, and fluid drainage from the ear are all symptoms of this condition.

  • Additional symptoms, which are more prevalent in youngsters and may include the following −

  • Warning indications include pain or discomfort in the ear, difficulty hearing or reacting to sounds, a high temperature, a sensation of fullness in the ear, difficulties sleeping, tugging or pulling on the ear, frequent weeping or irritability, a lack of appetite, dizziness, and a headache.

Potential Dangers

  • Ear infections are more common in children between 6 months and 2 years because their Eustachian tubes are smaller and their immune systems are still developing.

  • Compared to individual care for children, child care in group poses a more significant threat of children contracting infectious diseases such as the common cold and ear infections. When youngsters are gathered together, they are more likely to transfer germs like the common cold.

  • Breastfed infants are less likely to acquire ear infections than bottle-fed infants, particularly those who take their initial sips while lying down.

  • Because of the changing weather and other circumstances, ear infections are more likely in the fall and winter. When there is a high pollen concentration in the air, people with seasonal allergies may be at an increased risk of acquiring ear infections.

  • Pollution in the air also leads to this issue. Both secondhand smoke from cigarettes and poor air quality have been related to an increase in the seriousness of ear infections.

  • Because of the anatomical and muscular anomalies, children with cleft palates may have difficulty draining their Eustachian tubes.

  • You should seek medical assistance if you or your child is running a fever that lasts longer than 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius) for more than 24 hours. If your child's temperature is higher than 102 degrees Fahrenheit, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible (38 degrees Celsius).

  • Even if the extreme pain you are experiencing suddenly eases, you should still contact an emergency medical service. These symptoms are the result of a burst eardrum. In addition to that, keep an eye out for any new signs that may appear.

  • The following symptoms may indicate an ear infection − extreme discomfort, dizziness, a nasty headache, swelling in and around the ear, sagging facial muscles, and the release of blood or pus from the ear.

  • In addition, you need to make an appointment with your doctor if the ear's pain continues to grow or if it doesn't start to get better within 24 to 48 hours.

The clinical diagnosis of otitis medium with effusion is made when there is no evidence of a bacterial or viral infection. This condition is characterized by an enlarged middle ear as well as the accumulation of fluid (effusion). After treatment for an ear infection, this may develop if fluid accumulates in the ear canal after the disease has been cleared up. Obstruction of the Eustachian tubes caused by something other than an infection or a problem with the lines themselves could also be to blame.

Chronic otitis media with effusion refers to a condition in which fluid frequently returns to the middle ear despite the absence of a bacterial or viral infection as a possible cause. Ear infections are a common health problem among children, and repeated infections can cause permanent hearing loss.

Antibiotics are ineffective in curing chronic suppurative otitis media, an infection of the middle ear that frequently causes pus to build up. As a consequence of this, the eardrum may become perforated.


When treating ear pain, a few different approaches can be taken depending on the root of the problem. Antibiotics are occasionally used to treat bacterial infections, and over-the-counter pain medicines can help alleviate symptoms of the associated discomfort. A few types of ear pain can only be treated by a doctor, whether by medication or surgery. Your physician will look into your ear with an instrument called an otoscope for any symptoms of inflammation or infection to determine whether or not you have an ear infection.