Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Overview Risk Factors Evaluation Treatment specialist Home Care pain in adults pain in children warning signs Underlying Cause Anatomy

Painful Ear Home Care

Home treatment for ear pain may include:

  • Apply a warm, wet compress on the outside of the ear and face.
  • Keep the ear canal dry:
    • Do not swim.
    • Do not use eardrops.
    • Place a cotton ball in the ear when bathing.
  • Apply cold compresses for injuries:
    • Wrap ice in a moist hand towel. Do not apply ice directly to the skin.
    • Apply for 20-30 minutes, every 1-2 hours, for the first few days.
  • Apply warm compresses for inflammation:
    • Apply for 20-30 minutes, every 1-2 hours.
  • Acetaminophen for pain
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain:
  • Take prescribed medications as directed:
    • Use eardrops as directed.
    • Don't skip doses of your medication. This makes them less effective.
    • Be aware of the common side effects that may be caused by your medication.

Painful Ear Pain in Adults

Medications commonly used to control pain and inflammation in adults with ear pain include:

  • Acetaminophen decreases fever and pain, but does not help inflammation.
  • Adult dosing is 2 regular strength (325 mg) every 4 hours or 2 extra-strength (500 mg) every 6 hours.
  • Maximum dose is 4,000 mg per day.
  • Avoid this drug if you have alcoholism, liver disease or an allergy to the drug. See the package instructions.
  • Common brand names include Tylenol, Panadol, and many others.





NSAID Precautions

Painful Ear Pain in Children

Common medications used at home for pain in children with ear pain include:

Aspirin and most of the other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) are not used in children except under a doctor's care.

  • Acetaminophen decreases fever and pain, but does not help inflammation.
  • Dosing is 10-15 mg per kilogram (5-7 mg per pound) of body weight every 4-6 hours, up to the adult dose.
  • Do not exceed the maximum daily dose.
  • Acetaminophen products come in various strengths. Always follow the package instructions.
  • Avoid this drug in children with liver disease or an allergy to acetaminophen.
  • Common acetaminophen products include Tylenol, Panadol and many others.

Always follow the package instructions.


Painful Ear Warning Signs

Notify your doctor if you have ear pain and any of the following:

Continue to Painful Ear Underlying Cause

Last Updated: Feb 15, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Painful Ear References
  1. Garnett WR. GI effects of OTC analgesics: implications for product selection. J Am Pharm Assoc (Wash). 1996 Sep;NS36(9):565-72. [8824076]
  2. Mirza S, Richardson H. Otic barotrauma from air travel. J Laryngol Otol. 2005 May;119(5):366-70. [1594910]
  3. Shah RK, Blevins NH. Otalgia. Otolaryngol Clin North Am. 2003 Dec;36(6):1137-51. [15025013]
  4. Wang MC, Liu CY, Shiao AS, Wang T. Ear problems in swimmers. J Chin Med Assoc. 2005 Aug;68(8):347-52. [16138712]
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