Ear infections & earaches

Earaches and ear infection are most common in children. They are less common in adults. Usually affecting just one ear at a time, the pain can be constant or come and go. Providers at Dragonfly Health know that when a child is suffering from ear pain, we all feel the pain. They also know that most ear pain can be treated easily and urge anyone with ear pain to visit for an evaluation and treatment plan.

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Schedule your appointment at one of our offices to see what you have.

What to know before your visit

Patients with the following may be directed to another health care provider:

  • Ear trauma or foreign item in the ear
  • Recent scuba diving activity

What to expect at your visit

  1. Greeted by one of our attentive patient coordinators.
  2. Sign in and fill out your intake form on one of our ipads.
  3. Your practitioner will review your medical history, discuss your symptoms, conduct an examination and provide a personalized treatment plan.
  4. Your practitioner may conduct additional testing. Please note that additional charges apply for these tests.
  5. The summary of your visit can be sent to your primary care provider with your permission.

What causes earaches?

Infection caused by bacteria or viruses and injury is the most common cause of ear pain. In some cases, illness or injury elsewhere in the body can cause ear pain. For example, even tooth problems can cause ear pain. Common causes of ear pain include:

  •  Ear infection (bacteria or virus)
  • Earwax
  • Injury caused by cotton swab
  • Object in the ear
    Pressure change (e.g. flying)
  • Sinus infection
  • Strep throat

Less common causes of earache include:

  • Damaged eardrum
  • Dental problems
  • Nerve problems
  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome, or jaw pain

What are the symptoms of earaches and ear infections?

Signs of ear pain can be different between children and adults. Indications of ear problems in children include:

  • Fussiness
  • Drainage from ear
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • More crying than usual
  • Pain that is worse when lying down
  • Pulling on-ear
  • Trouble hearing
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Trouble with balance

Symptoms of ear problems in adults include:

  • Drainage from the ear
  • Ear pain
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Trouble with hearing

Immediate medical care is needed if any of the symptoms above occur in a child less than 6 months of age. (Please note that Dragonfly Health providers do not treat children under 18 months of age.)

When to seek treatment for ear pain?

Most ear pain should be treated if it doesn’t go away after a day or two. Quick treatment can make you feel better faster. It also helps to prevent serious problems from happening. There are a few symptoms that require immediate care though. Those symptoms are:

  • Blood draining from the ear
  • Dizziness
  • Drooping face
  • Headache
  • Problems with balance
  • Pus draining from the ear
  • Severe pain
  • Swelling in or near the ear

Some of these may require more serious treatment. Our providers can assess your situation and provide referrals if necessary.

It may seem like ear pain that goes away abruptly is a good thing. It usually isn’t. Severe ear pain that goes away quickly is often a sign of a ruptured eardrum. Quick treatment of a ruptured eardrum can prevent serious problems.

How are earaches treated?

Bacterial infections are treated with antibiotics that are swallowed or by drops that go into the ear. Both treatments may be used for severe infections. Dragonfly Health providers may also use drops that help to treat the ear pain locally if it is severe.

Pain caused by ear wax can be treated by removing the wax. This is best done by a health care professional, such as a Dragonfly Health provider because sometimes ear wax can be pushed deeper into the ear and cause more problems. Ear drops that soften the wax and allow it to fall out on its own may be used as well.

Viral infections will be treated differently, as antibiotics are not effective against a virus. Jaw problems are treated by a dentist. Dragonfly Health providers can assess the cause of pain and prescribe treatment to get everyone feeling better as quickly as possible.