Earache: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Even though infection is a common cause of ear pain, not all ear pain means an infection.

If you have ear pain and don't have an infection, it could be because of a jaw problem, such as temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain. Or it could be because of a neck problem.

When ear discomfort or pain is mild or comes and goes without other symptoms, home treatment may be all you need.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Apply heat on the ear to ease pain. To apply heat, put a warm water bottle, a heating pad set on low, or a warm cloth on your ear. Do not go to sleep with a heating pad on your skin.
  • Take an over-the-counter pain medicine, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve). Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Do not take two or more pain medicines at the same time unless the doctor told you to. Many pain medicines have acetaminophen, which is Tylenol. Too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be harmful.
  • Never insert anything, such as a cotton swab or a bobby pin, into the ear.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have worsening symptoms of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the area.
    • Pus draining from the area.
    • A fever.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You have new or worse drainage from the ear.
  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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Current as of: July 29, 2016