Ear Pain in Adults


Ear pain in adults is not as common as ear pain in children. If an adult does experience ear pain, the treatments and symptoms associated with his ear pain are similar to the treatments and symptoms for children. Much of the ear pain adults have stems from high altitudes. It can often be relieved by doing something simple such as yawning or chewing gum. However, adults also can sometimes have ear infections that cause pain.


  • An adult who has ear pain may have an inner ear infection. In addition to an earache, there are other symptoms adults feel when they have an inner ear infection. A fever of greater than 100 degrees F, a feeling that the ear is blocked, muffled hearing, dizziness and a temporary loss of hearing are all symptoms that an adult may have an inner ear infection that is causing the ear pain.


  • Adults who have weak immune systems are more likely to have ear pain because ear infections often begin with viral infections such as colds. Likewise, an adult who is smaller or who has physical development issues that cause him to not grow to full size is more likely to have ear problems because the eustachian tubes in his ears are narrower and shorter than the eustachian tubes of larger adults. This increases the likelihood of fluid being trapped in the ear and contributes to an infection and ear pain.

Risk Factors

  • Ear infections and ear pain are more common among all age groups in the fall and winter. If you have problems with seasonal allergies, you may be more likely to develop an ear infection because your sinuses are congested. Race also has an effect on who gets ear infections. Those of Native American descent and Intuits from Alaska or Canada are more prone to get ear infections than those of other races.


  • Over-the-counter medications can help adults as well as children receive some relief from the pain. Drugs with acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be helpful. Adults can take Advil, although in rare cases, it can cause a dangerous disorder in children, known as Stevens' Johnson Syndrome, according to the Holistic Pediatric Association. A warm compress placed over the ear that is in pain can also provide relief. In most cases, there is not much else that can be done. Serious cases of ear pain could require draining the ear; however, this is not common in adults.


  • Adults who are prone to ear pain may want to use some over-the-counter decongestants or a medicine used to treat allergies. These items can be effective because they help clear up any congestion that you might have due to allergies. The less congestion you have, the less likely you are to have inner ear pain.


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