When should you see a doctor about ear pain?

If you’re suffering from ear pain then you may be in a lot of discomfort. The pain could be disrupting your sleep and making it hard to focus during the day. But does this mean that you actually need to see a doctor? Ear pain can have a number of different causes and may often clear up on its own. There are also some steps that you can take to help yourself at home that will help to ease the discomfort. It’s also important to know at what point you might need to seek medical attention.

Is my ear pain an emergency?

There are some very specific situations in which you should seek urgent medical attention for your ear pain. On its own this type of pain doesn’t usually count as an emergency. However, if your ear pain is accompanied by a stiff neck or severe drowsiness or other symptoms such as vomiting and/or a high fever then you may need to act quickly. If you’ve recently had a blow to the head then this is another situation in which your ear pain may need to be treated quickly.

Less severe symptoms

If you don’t have any of the above there are still a number of situations in which you may need to go and see a doctor about your ear pain. These include:

  • When you have ear pain plus other symptoms of an infection, such as a low fever
  • You’re experiencing ringing in your ears, dizziness and some hearing loss
  • Blowing your nose or wiggling your ear lobe both increase the pain that you’re experiencing
  • The ear pain has gone on for more than 24 hours and/or is getting worse
  • You’ve noticed a sticky or bloody discharge coming from your ear

Although not likely to be an emergency, in all of the above situations you will need to seek the help and advice of a medical professional as soon as possible. Make sure you alert your doctor to anything that could have caused the ear pain, such as something being inserted into the ear or exposure to a loud noise.

Helping yourself at home

There are many situations where ear pain resolves itself - it’s a good idea to continue to monitor the pain even as it starts to subside and to be vigilant for any other symptoms. Painkillers and rest can help when it comes to easing the symptoms of ear pain. You can also use a warm or cold flannel placed over the ear to help reduce the severity of ear pain. If you’re suffering from ear pain it’s important that you don’t try to put anything into your ear and make sure you keep the ear dry as this could make the problem worse.

Although ear pain is uncomfortable it’s a problem that doesn’t always necessarily require medical help. There is plenty that you can do to make yourself more comfortable at home and the ear pain may then resolve itself. However, when accompanied by other symptoms - such as a stiff neck or a fever - you may need to make sure that you’re seen by someone straight away.

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The Harley Street ENT clinic in London can provide all of the care that you need when you have an ear, nose, throat or balance problem. We ensure that you can get all of the right tests, treatments and advice in one convenient place.