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Pain in the Ear: What Does an Earache Really Mean?

It’s a scenario most everyone has faced; the first signs you’re coming down with something: congestion, coughing, sore throat, and sneezing. All signs point to it being a cold. But then your ear starts hurting too. Is it really a cold? Or could it be an ear infection? It can be hard to tell the difference sometimes, but there are a few distinguishing symptoms between these two ailments. Let’s take a look at the differences to make sure you’re getting the right medication for the necessary relief.

When Earaches Mean a Cold

While it’s not commonly thought of, the common cold can actually cause ear pain. During a cold, fluid in the middle ear can accumulate, which puts pressure on the eardrum, causing inflammation and pain.

If the ear pain is caused by a cold, it should go away as the sinuses drain and pressure on the eardrum disappears. The best way to get rid of the cold—and the ear pain—is to treat the cold symptoms. In the meantime, if some relief of the ear pain is needed, try taking an over-the-counter pain reliever like Tylenol, Advil, or Motrin.

When Earaches Mean Ear Infection

If the ear pain doesn’t go away on its own as the cold is getting better, more than likely it’s actually an ear infection. Other symptoms of an ear infection are:

– Intense ear pain,

– Mild hearing loss

– Fever, dizziness, loss of appetite, and difficulty sleeping

– Loss of appetite, and difficulty sleeping.

A doctors visit, to an ENT physician, is the best way to determine whether your ear pain is caused by a cold or ear infection. After an official diagnosis, you’ll get the necessary antibiotics to help you heal. It could take some time for the pain to fully go away after the antibiotics are done. This is because fluid can be left behind on the eardrum for a few weeks. But if weeks turn into months and the pain persists, another doctor’s appointment may be necessary to discuss any additional problems.

If you are experiencing ear pain and suspect you may have more than a common cold, give us a call today. At Premier Medical, our knowledgeable ENT professionals can help you diagnose the problem and get rid of the pain.

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