Same day appointments available




If your child is struggling with the symptoms of an earache or ear infection, you can visit us at Star Pharmacy instead of waiting to see your GP. Our highly qualified pharmacists can offer convenient and effective solutions as part of the NHS Pharmacy First service. Additionally, we can provide a range of medicines for earache through this service. For adults, we offer a private service.



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What is earache?

Earache is quite common, especially in young children, and it is not usually a sign of anything serious. Having an earache can be unpleasant, ranging from mild but tolerable discomfort to severe, unbearable pain. Earache can affect the outer ear, ear canal, or inside the ear. How long the earache lasts may depend on what is causing it.

What are the symptoms of earache?

The symptoms of earache can include:

  • Ear pressure – you may experience a sensation of fullness or pressure in the affected ear.
  • Ear discharge – you may notice discharge or fluid draining from the ear. The colour and consistency of the discharge can help determine the underlying cause.
  • Hearing loss – a change in your hearing, or loss of it altogether, could indicate there’s something wrong, such as a build up of ear wax, a perforated eardrum or an object lodged in the ear canal.
  • Pain when swallowing – a sore throat or tonsillitis can sometimes cause ear pain, together with pain when swallowing.
  • Toothache – tooth pain can accompany ear pain, especially when children are teething. You may also feel ear pain if you have a dental infection, such as an abscess.
  • Fever – a high temperature is often a sign of an infection.
  • Irritability – ear pain may lead to increased crying, fussiness, and difficulty sleeping in young children. They also may pull or tug at their ears.
  • Balance issues – ear conditions affecting the inner ear, such as vestibular disorders, may lead to dizziness or balance problems.

What are the causes of earache?

The most common causes of earache include:

  • Ear infections – Ear infections are especially common in children, with most earaches caused by an infection as a result of a cold or sore throat.
  • Earwax build-up – Earwax build-up can be uncomfortable and lead to other problems, such as loss of hearing, tinnitus (a ringing or buzzing in your ears) and feelings of nausea and dizziness, otherwise known as vertigo.
  • Swimmer’s ear – Also known as otitis externa, swimmer’s ear occurs when water gets trapped in the ear canal. It can cause inflammation of the external ear canal, which can then lead to ear pain, itchiness, discharge from the ear, and temporary hearing loss.
  • Injury or trauma – Minor injuries or trauma to the outer ear can result in pain. This could be as a result of an accident, changes in air pressure, loud noises, trauma from contact sports, or even a foreign object in the ear.

How to prevent earache

To keep your ears healthy and prevent any problems, it can help to:

  • Avoid putting objects inside the ear – this includes cotton buds and your fingers. You should resist using cotton buds or your fingers to remove earwax build-up as this can push it in further and make it worse. Excess earwax usually falls out on its own.
  • Avoid getting water in your ears – keep your ears as dry as possible, making sure you dry them thoroughly after showering or swimming.
  • Practice good hygiene – washing your hands regularly with soap and water will help stop the spread of germs that can make you unwell, therefore reducing your risk of developing an ear infection.

How to treat earache

There are several ways you can help relieve your earache symptoms, including:

  • Painkillers – over-the-counter painkillers, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen, can provide short-term relief from the pain associated with earache.
  • Use a warm or cool compress – soak a flannel in either warm or cool water, wring out the excess water, and place it over your ear to relieve the pain of an earache.
  • Speak to your pharmacist – our pharmacists can assess your symptoms and recommend effective over-the-counter earache medicine to help relieve your pain and discomfort, such as pain relief, drying drops, and earplugs.
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