Adult earache

​General information

Usually, earache is caused by an acute ear infection. In addition to pain, the infection also causes cloudy discharge and swelling of the ear canal and you may have difficulty hearing.

Ear pain can also be caused by trauma, the nervous system and illnesses affecting the neck, pharynx, jaw joint, teeth or mouth. Even wind, cold weather or pressure variations can cause ear pain.


You can take over-the-counter painkillers to reduce pain. The pharmacy staff will help you choose the right product. Raising the head of your bed when lying down may also be helpful. You should never insert a cotton bud or any other object into the ear canal to avoid pain and infection.

When should you seek medical advice?

You should seek medical advice if

  • the ear is bleeding.
  • you feel dizzy.
  • you have a raised temperature.
  • your symptoms don’t subside with painkillers after a couple of days.

This Self-care instruction has been produced in collaboration with Duodecim Terveyskirjasto

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Updated  8.6.2020