What to look out for
There are many reasons why you might have an earache
- glue ear – this is a build-up of fluid deep inside the ear (behind the eardrum). It mainly affects children,
- an inner ear infection,
- a blockage caused by ear wax, or
- a throat infection which can affect the ear.
The main symptoms are severe earache (caused by the pressure of mucus on the eardrum), a high temperature and slight deafness. About three-quarter (75%) of these ear infections happen in children under 10 years of age.
Earache usually comes on all of a sudden and the pain can be quite sharp. You may also have a high temperature. The severe pain usually only lasts a day or two. After an ear infection, you may still have fluid behind your ear drum which can last for several months. Your ear may feel uncomfortable, but it is more a dull, abnormal feeling than a nasty, sharp pain. The fluid may also cause a decrease in your hearing in that ear for a short while until the fluid is gone.
What can you do
Ask your pharmacist for advice. You can take over-the-counter medicines to help with the pain and any high temperature.
Do not take antibiotics for an ear infection unless your doctor prescribes them. Ear infections are generally caused by viruses and antibiotics cannot treat viruses.
When to seek help
Usually, you do not need to see the doctor. However, if you have dizziness, severe headache or your earache does not improve within 24 to 48 hours (1 to 2 days), it is best to visit your doctor.
As you can probably guess, this website can’t replace the advice you might get from a health professional. If you are worried about yourself, please call or visit your GP or your pharmacist.