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What are the Best Tips for Ear Infection Pain Relief?

By Lori Smith
Updated Feb 06, 2024
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Ear infections can cause overwhelming distress. Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen, are often the most effective way to reduce any fever and relieve acute pain. Sometimes, antibiotics are prescribed to cure the infection and reduce irritation. Placing medicated drops into the affected ear, or applying a warm compress, are also frequently recommended and helpful in achieving ear infection pain relief. In many cases, using a hairdryer near the ear can offer immediate, albeit temporary, alleviation of discomfort.

When an infection is present, doctors sometimes prescribe oral antibiotics to get rid of it and to aid in ear infection pain relief. If the symptoms are severe, or if it is believed that the medicine will be helpful, they may suggest or prescribe it. Not all cases require this type of treatment, however.

As an alternative to an oral antibiotic, or sometimes in addition to it, pain-relieving eardrops are recommended. Usually, these drops are warmed, and with the patient lying on his or her side with the affected ear facing up, they can be administered to ease discomfort. This form of pain relief is generally most effective when used in conjunction with over-the-counter pain medications.

Depending on the cause of the infection, the type of drops that will be most successful for ear infection pain relief may differ. For example, infection caused by swimmer’s ear, in which excess water accumulates and breeds bacteria, is often treated with antibiotic drops. These drops may contain steroids that also help relieve symptoms. A doctor’s diagnosis and recommendation will help people discover the most effective course of treatment for their particular situation.

The Eustachian tube, in the middle ear, is a common source of pain and inflammation during an ear infection. Sometimes, water or bodily fluids get trapped there, which causes discomfort. When this happens, many people turn to home remedies, particularly if medicines take too long to work, or when they are ineffective.

A hairdryer, for example, turned on and aimed about an arm's-length from the affected ear, can dry out any water that may be trapped in the Eustachian tube. The heat emitted from the appliance usually also offers quick pain relief. Many people who try this are surprised and happy to find that the type of noise made by the hairdryer also aids in quickly soothing the ear.

Once the infection is gone, pain usually subsides. Many times, ear infection pain relief is achieved within a few days to a couple of weeks following the onset of symptoms. A person who is susceptible to ear infections should take precautionary measures to lessen the likelihood of recurrence. This may include wearing a bathing cap while swimming and keeping the ears clean and free from wax build-up or dirt.

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Discussion Comments
By Spotiche5 — On Mar 20, 2014

@ocelot60- Using warmth to control ear infection pain is a good tip. I have used a heating pad for this type of discomfort, and it is helpful.

If you do choose to use a heating pad for ear infection pain, it is important to remember to be very careful. Never fall asleep with one turned on, and always use a low setting.

By Ocelot60 — On Mar 19, 2014

Sometimes using a warm compress over the ears helps to relieve the discomfort of an ear infection. It's important not to use one that is extremely hot though, as this could make the pain worse.

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