First Aid Treatment for an Earache

Earaches are a common problem, especially in children. The most common cause of earache is an infection, either in the outer part of the ear (the ear canal) or behind the eardrum (the middle ear). A foreign object lodged inside the ear can also cause an earache. The nerves that supply the ear also supply areas of the throat and teeth. Therefore, problems such as a toothache or a sore throat can sometimes cause pain in the ear.

Most causes of earaches can be treated at home with simple first aid measures. A severe ear infection may require antibiotics. If an earache does not resolve within a couple of days, medical advice should be sought as, very rarely, a persistent earache can be the sign of a more serious underlying medical problem or a problem in the mouth or throat.

First Aid Treatment for an Earache

1. Advise the victim to take regular over-the-counter painkillers such as acetaminophen.

2. Place a warm compress, such as a warm, wet washcloth, against the ear.

3. Seek medical advice if you are concerned, there is hearing loss, or the earache does not resolve.

4. If the eardrum has been perforated, keep the inside of the ear dry and avoid submersion in water.

Perforated Eardrum

Infection behind the eardrum can occasionally cause a tear in the eardrum. This is known as a perforated eardrum. Signs of a perforated eardrum include hearing loss and discharge from the ear. Normally, an eardrum perforation will heal by itself with time (around six to eight weeks). In rare cases, surgery may be required to repair the eardrum. Always seek advice from a medical professional, especially if there is significant hearing loss or discharge coming from the ear.