You begin to notice significant pain in your ear, interrupting your day. Should you make a doctor’s appointment for your earache or go straight to the emergency department?
When seeking medical attention for your earache, consult UPMC CareFinder to locate a UPMC Urgent Care center, Emergency Department, Walk-in Primary Care, or Children’s Express Care close to you. You can even receive an online medical visit with UPMC AnywhereCare.
Earaches can happen in different parts of the ear, and they occur for a variety of reasons. Learn about the causes of ear pain and how to identify serious symptoms — so you know when it’s time to seek care for your pain.
When to Go to the ER for Ear Pain
You should consider seeking emergency care if you experience the following symptoms with ear pain:
- Stiff neck
- Severe drowsiness
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- High fever
- A recent blow to the ear or recent head trauma
When to Speak to a Doctor About Ear Pain
See a doctor or visit an urgent care center for the less severe earache symptoms:
- Minor hearing loss, ringing in ears, and/or dizziness
- Signs of infection, including a low fever
- A sticky or bloody discharge coming from the ear
- Increased pain when wiggling the ear lobe
- Nose blowing that results in ear pain
- Pain that worsens or does not improve over 24 to 48 hours
Tell your doctor if you have been exposed to loud, prolonged noise, such as a concert or industrial machinery. Also tell your doctor if an object has been inserted in your ear.
Home Remedies for Minor Ear Pain
Sometimes ear pain will go away on its own, and a doctor’s care is not needed. If ear pain subsides, you should continue to monitor it closely in case it reoccurs. In addition, the following pain may not necessarily need medical treatment:
- Ear pain caused by jaw pain or a headache
- Ear pain from recurring cases of swimmer’s ear