How to Tell if Your Earache is From a Cold or an Ear Infection

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ENT Associates of Northwest Florida

Owner and practitioner at ENT Associates of Northwest Florida, Dr. William B. Clark has been providing high-quality ear, nose, and throat care to local residents for more than two decades. Specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of any related ailment, Dr. William B. Clark is experienced with such conditions as throat infections, earaches, and ear infections.

Earaches can be a troublesome condition, especially if you are uncertain whether your earache is caused by a basic cold or an ear infection. Both adults and children can experience an earache resulting from a cold. They are caused by trapped fluid in the ear that is putting pressure on the eardrum.

Typically, when an earache is caused by a cold, it creates a dull, burning, or sharp pain. It is also normally accompanied by a fever, trouble sleeping, and other cold symptoms. Since colds are generally self-limiting, an accompanying earache should go away on its own when the cold goes away.

Meanwhile, when infection is the root cause of the earache, symptoms and treatment are different. Sometimes earaches can start from a cold and turn into an infection; other times they simply are brought on by the infection itself. Most ear infections come on suddenly and they create earaches that are painful in the beginning.

As the eardrum stretches due to the pressure, the pain may dissipate. Ear infections can also create loss of appetite and dizziness, along with dulled hearing. Unlike earaches caused by colds, earaches caused by ear infections must be properly diagnosed and treated before they go away.