Is throbbing ear pain keeping you up all night? If so, you’re probably wondering where this sudden discomfort is coming from. But did you know that when this sharp pain in your ear comes and goes, there are ways to make it completely disappear? If you aren’t looking forward to another sleepless night, stick around.
Sharp Pain in Your Ear: 3 Causes
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1. Swimmer’s Ear
Have you ever experienced ear pain while visiting a beach town in summer? If so, you can blame it all on the seawater coming into your ears. And if you now spend a lot of time in your local pools, you likely have the condition known as swimmer’s ear. The truth is, it typically occurs in children, but the swimmer’s ear can also cause sharp ear pain even in adults.
This condition also goes by the name of otitis externa, meaning the inflammation of your outer ear. It happens when water stays in your outer ear canal for too long and creates a moist environment. As you might have guessed, this further leads to a bacterial infection since such an environment makes a perfect place for bacteria to grow. Your ear can even become swollen, turn red, itch, or leak puss.
2. Middle Ear Infection
Also known as otitis media, this condition can result from fluid getting trapped inside your ear, too. This time, however, the fluid goes behind your eardrum and makes it bulge. Again, the inside of your ears turns into a perfect breeding environment for many bacteria and viruses. As a result, your eardrum will become inflamed and leave you in pain.
This condition is also more common in children, but that doesn’t mean an adult can’t have it. Middle ear infections happen more in winter or early spring. But the good news is, they usually go away on their own, without any medications. Still, if you feel feverish, you might want to visit an otorhinolaryngologist (an ENT doctor).
Last but not least, something as non-threatening as earwax might be responsible for a sharp pain in your ear.
You’ve probably heard that using Q-tips isn’t the best way to go about cleaning your ears. The reason behind this is that you shouldn’t be getting rid of earwax that’s deep inside the ear. As it goes, this yellowish substance is there for a reason — to protect the skin of your ear canals and keep your ears clean.
As funny as it may sound, cerumen (earwax) is beneficial for your health. It protects your ears against water, fungi, and bacteria. Unfortunately, the process of wax building up inside your ears might not go smoothly at times. Earwax can sometimes harden and block your ear canal, which may lead to infection and pain.
Other Symptoms Accompanying the Sharp Pain in Your Ear
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The unpleasant feeling in your ears can sometimes result from quick changes in the air pressure and leave you with hearing issues. Another reason why your ears might hurt might have to do with the condition called Eustachian tube dysfunction. It may come from the flu, a cold, or even allergies. And if you happen to have a sinus infection, then your ear pain probably results from that.
Other times, the pain you’re feeling inside your ears might stem from a toothache. The reason behind this is that your facial and neck nerves pass close to your inner ear. Because of that, the pain can easily spread from your decayed tooth to your ears and cause an earache.
You might also have tonsillitis or pharyngitis, which are accompanied by a sore throat.
Some Treatment Options for Your Sharp Ear Pain
The best way to go about treating your ear pain will be to visit your ear, nose and throat doctor. They’ll decide whether you’ll need antibiotics and may prescribe ear drops. But until then, you can always take over-the-counter painkillers to finally get a good night’s sleep. You can also try sitting upright or chewing gum to relieve ear pressure and try to keep your ears dry at all times.
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