Treating earache

Earache can be caused by different problems. The problem may reside in the ear itself, or it may be elsewhere (nose, throat, jaw joint) but the pain is felt in the ear.

You may get earache due to an infection, whether in the ear canal, which is called otitis externa, or behind the ear drum, called otitis media.

Pain in one or both ears may be felt if you’re suffering from inflammation in the nose or throat. There is a canal that links the back of the throat and the ear and which may, if blocked, cause earache. The pain may also be caused by a problem in the jaw.


There are two types of medicine which can relieve the pain: paracetamol (Dafalgan, Panadol, etc.) or anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen (Irfen, Algifor, etc.). Taking medicine regularly will help relieve the earache, which may cause significant pain.

Warning: pregnant women should not take anti-inflammatories. In this case, pain relief is often limited to paracetamol.

If you are diagnosed with a bacterial infection, the doctor will prescribe antibiotics.

If the earache is caused by an inflammation in the nose or throat, the doctor will prescribe a nasal spray to unblock the canal between the back of the throat and the ear.

For further information

Check the “Earache” page on the “MSD manual” website.


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